Can a property manager apply rent money to other monies owed, and then charge you late fees for being late with rent?
The bottom line is this: The property manager, as the landlords’ agent, can evict you for any delinquency or lease violation, with due process of law. And from the sound of it, even though you may believe you are only delinquent on the late fees and not the monthly rent, it doesn’t make much difference. You’re still in breach, and therefore the landlord has grounds to evict you.
Let’s take a look at the law.
Chapter 118A.150 of the landlord/tenant code in the state of Nevada defines “rent” thus: ““Rent” means all periodic payments to be made to the landlord for occupancy of a dwelling unit, including, without limitation, all reasonable and actual late fees set forth in the rental agreement.”
So from a legal point of view, there is no differentiating between the rent and the late fee.
If you are delinquent on late fees, you cannot rely on having paid your monthly periodic rent for relief. The landlord can apply your fractional payment to the past due rent, or to the late fees, and it doesn’t matter either way. You are in breach of your lease agreement no matter which way the landlord goes.
Furthermore, from the landlords’ point of view, if you’re having trouble scratching together 100 or 200 dollars in late fees in a month’s time, that’s a worrisome sign that you may be unable to make your rent payment in the future.
You may have a counterclaim, if the landlord has not been fulfilling basic obligations to you as a renter. This is because Nevada is among those states that allow tenants to withhold rent in cases where the landlord has failed to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition.
However, you must provide advance written notice of your intent to do so, and give the landlord 48 hours to remedy the situation. See NRS 118A.830 for details. My gut tells me that you’ll be better served by holding a garage sale, a rent party or pick up some overtime and get current on those late payments, pronto.
Writing about personal finance and investments since 1999, Jason Van Steenwyk started as a reporter with Mutual Funds Magazine and served as editor of Investors’ Digest. He now publishes feature articles in many publications including Annuity Selling Guide, Bankrate.com, and more.