Seattle Renters Share Their Late Fee Stories

These stories were submitted by Seattle renters to my Council office in March 2023, in support of our legislation to cap late fees for overdue rent payments. Read more about the struggle here, and submit your own late fee story by filling out this form.

  • “My landlord charges $250 for late rent. My rent is already half of my take home pay each month, and having to pay the late fee keeps me more in debt every single month.”
  • “I have been charged $150 for late rent due to the rent being 6 days late. I was notified that the rent was 6 days late with an eviction notice. I had thought I’d paid the rent but since I had not pushed the correct button on the online form when paying the transaction so the payment attempt was void. I am also charged $1.00 to pay online which is the only way rent can be paid.”
  • “Yes and rent keeps going up and late fees on top of that plus all utilities my whole check goes to keeping a roof over my head. Me and my kids don’t have extra for no other bills, $1800, 1 bedroom 3 girls, we’re a step away from being homeless.”
  • “I receive a late fee immediately when the month starts if it’s not paid on the first of $250 and then a few days later I will get an extended late fee of an additional $250. After they already raised my rent, 25% 10 months ago. It’s outrageous. As a new mother, this is not what I planned on doing in my first year of motherhood.”
  • “Every time I am late on rent, there’s a $100 late fee. There’s also an overdraw fee which they charge twice — ‘one for them and one for my bank.’ So if I don’t have the money in my bank to pay, and they try to charge me, I owe $160 just for being poor. Monetary punishment for insufficient funds boggles me because if I didn’t have money in the first place, I won’t after being charged another $160.”
  • “Our current landlords charge a base amount of $35.00 and an additional $5 per day until Rent and late fees are paid. Example: rent is $1,350.00 due by the 5th of the month, on the 6th day a charge of $35 is applied and an additional $5 per day until paid in full. In this particular month we were charged $1,350+($35 base late fee)=1,385.00 as of the 6th. From the 7th to the 19th an additional $5 per day = $65 brings our total rent and fees to $1450.00. Rent alone is hard enough to get, why so many late fees. Also we need to put a stop to rental price increases. We normally have a yearly increase of $20. In January of 2020 we were told our rent will go from $1245 to $1265 a $20 increase like usual. In January 2022 we were notified that rent will go from $1265 to $1,350 an increase of $85. What the hell!!! With all the late fees and price increases we can’t afford to pay anything else. Someone please please please put a stop to late fees and rent increases. The cost is beyond out of control.”
  • “From $100 late fees to $200 rent increases yearly. But isn’t the real issue the price of rent? If you need 2 incomes to pay the rent and bills if it goes up anymore it will be impossible to adhere to the 5 people per house and only 1 family per home rules that we have to adhere to. So I hope there is a rent cap included here too. At 75% of minimum wage at 40 hours per week…. for a 2 bedroom. That is closer to realistic. Thank you. It is so bad that soon I will be paying rent late. Or maybe not be able to make rent…. so how will I pay that extra $100?”
  • “I exist on my Social Security Retirement Benefits which are paid on the second Wednesday of the month. Of course, my rent is due on the first of each month. This sets me up for a perpetual late fee of $50 every month since my check will never arrive before the deadline to pay without penalty, which is the 5th. I have asked several times to change my due date to the 15th. The landlord, Community Roots Housing, will not budge on any dates. And we all know the US Government will not change my SS payment date. The “creative” solution proposed by CRH was to save up enough money to get a month ahead and keep one month’s rent in the bank for the payment on the first of the month. Well, on approximately $1,700 total income per month it is next to impossible. I estimate that I have paid over $3,600 in late fees so far. The high past due penalty has not encouraged me to pay rent on time and in fact has hindered my ability to pay future rent. All because the landlord will not accept a mid-month payment as an on-time payment.”
  • “It happened to me. I have been charged a $150 late fee a few times.”
  • “My landlord charges $100 in late fees (nearly 10% of the rent) on the 7th of the month. Put me into rent debt, then offered me a repayment plan adding $500 a month (nearly half my rent). Being forced to move out after losing my job. I hate this place. Please do what you can, Councilperson Sawant. You’re an inspiration to me.”
  • “I got rental assistance and the contract we signed said they couldn’t raise my rent for 6 months. They not only raised my rent, they harassed me the whole time. Wouldn’t fix mold and leak problems and charged me for parking. I’ve been here for 8 years and they added on massive late fees before rental assistance so they could collect when it got paid. They have price-gouged me on everything…”
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