Habitat - March/April 2016 - (Page 11)

LEGAL TALK When is Management Required to Accept Late Rent? J. Mike Williams Fowler, Hein, Cheatwood & Williams, P.A. M ost management companies have leases that provide for a due date on the first and late after the third or fifth of each month. Most courts in Georgia will allow you to collect a late fee provided it does not exceed 10 percent of the base rent. The question management typically wants answered is: "When does a landlord have to accept late rent?" Management is required to accept payment of late rent only one time in a 12-month period after a dispossessory action is filed. We refer to this as the "one-time tender rule or defense." The purpose of the law is to give the resident a second chance to avoid being evicted if it is the first dispossessory warrant in the last 12 months. In order to avoid being evicted on the first dispossessory warrant, the resident must pay all rent, late charges, utility payments, other charges and court costs to management within seven days of being served with the dispossessory warrant. If the resident does not pay all of the money owed or tries to pay it later than seven days after being served, then management is not required to accept the payment. Management is required to accept such late payment only once in a twelve month period. The resident must pay all rent, utility charges, late charges or other fees required by law in order to take advantage of this defense. The court costs referenced in the one-time tender rule does not equate to the warrant fee. For example, if your resident fails to pay the rent on or before the due date on the first, with a grace period on the fifth, management has the right to reject any late payment. However, once the dispossessory warrant is filed, and provided this is the resident's first dispossessory warrant within the last 12 months, management must accept the rent, late charge, utility payments and court costs if the resident tenders everything within the date he or she is served and up until the time the answer is due in seven days. This means that if the resident is served on the 10th day of each month, and the resident tenders the rent, late charges, utilities and includes the actual court costs, then you are required to accept the rent once in a 12-month period, provided there are no prior dispossessory actions within the last 12 months. On the other hand, if you filed a dispossessory action within the last 12 months due to the resident's failure to pay on time, you can refuse the late payment even though an attempt is made to comply with the one-time tender rule. This defense is only applicable to a case involving non-payment of rent. There is a misconception in the industry that management must accept the rent if this is the resident's first dispossessory warrant. As mentioned previously, management only has to accept rent late once in a twelvemonth period provided there are no >> M A RCH/A PRIL 2016 | H A BITAT | 11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Habitat - March/April 2016

Chair’s Message
Legal Talk
Cover Feature: What Apartment Residents Really Want
Government Affairs
2016 AAA Trade Show Sneak Peek
Up Close
Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage
Volunteer's Corner
AAA Platinum Patron Member Profile: CSC ServiceWorks
AAA Gold Patron Member Profile: Fowler, Hein, Cheatwood & Williams, P.A.
New Members
Advertisers’ Index

Habitat - March/April 2016