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Rent Grace Period and Late Fees: All You Need to Know

Updated:

July 27, 2022

Written by:

Abhi Sreerama

Every renter faces a monthly due date when their rent is supposed to be paid. Fortunately, many landlords build grace periods into their lease agreements. A grace period is the amount of time you have after the due date to pay your rent without facing any penalties, late fees, or other consequences.

A calendar with rent due reminder

What Is the Grace Period for Rent?

What is the grace period for rent in Texas? It's not automatic or the same for all leases, so don't assume state law protects you in all cases. However, many leases have a 5-day grace period where you can still pay your rent without incurring a late fee or other penalties. 

How Long Is the Typical Rent Grace Period?

If you need to ask “how long is a rent grace period”, then you need to ask your landlord or check your lease. As a general rule of thumb, the state of Texas offers a two-day grace period. However, some leases might have longer periods built-in. Likewise, municipal laws at the city and county levels might allow for more in certain locations.

You also need to check with your landlord about what particular criteria they use to mark rent for your single-family house as paid. An "initiated" status simply means you scheduled the payment or mailed your check-in. "Withdrawn" applies to online payments because the actual withdrawal of the funds from your bank account might happen after you make the payment arrangements. "Received" is when the landlord gets the deposit, and "cleared" is when the deposit is finalized by the bank. By default, most rent is only considered paid when it is received, so dropping it in the mail on the day it's due will incur late fees.

What Are Late Rent Fees?

A late rent fee is added if you pay the rent after the grace period. How much it is will vary on state rules and what your landlord chooses to do. Late fees paid past the due date and grace period serve two purposes. 

First, they compensate landlords for financial difficulties by having their cash flow interrupted. Second, they serve as a penalty that hopefully motivates renters to pay their lease payments on time per the contract schedule. While these late fees vary, the national average often falls between 5% and 10% of the total monthly lease amount as a sum.

Texas Rules on Late Fees

Late fees for rent in Texas have to follow a particular set of rules.

  • Late fees can not be assessed by landlords until rent is unpaid after a two-day grace period.
  • Any late fees assessed have to be considered legally "reasonable".
  • The maximum late fee for properties with four or fewer units, which would include single-family houses, is 12% of the monthly rent.
  • The ceiling on late fees for a property with five or more rental units is 10% of the monthly rent.
  • The landlord can charge more than these limits if it's related to late payment damages, including the costs associated with collecting rent.
  • Landlords can charge an initial fee and also daily fees.

What Is the Typical Late Fee for Rent?

late rent fee

If you're wondering what the typical late fee for rent is, it's often a range of 5% to 10% of the monthly rent total on a national basis. However, it varies quite a bit based on local laws and what the landlords want to do.

  • Some landlords don't even charge late fees from their renters in order to make leases more attractive in competitive markets.
  • Sometimes, late fees are just flat fees instead of percentages, so they might be things like $25, $50, or $100.
  • Before any landlord can charge you late fees, they have to let you know in writing that such policies apply. This is usually done in the actual lease text itself.

Consequences for Late Rent Payments

Late rent payments have consequences that you are going to have to face as a renter. The later you make your payments, the more your potential risk of serious repercussions goes up. Paying on time is always a prudent move.

Unhappy Landlord

What is the grace period for late rent? This is not something your landlord ever wants to hear. They're legally obligated to tell you, but if you want to keep them happy, then you should pay them before the grace period is over. Making your landlord unhappy can have some consequences you might not want to face, even if you pay up later.

  • An unhappy landlord can result in a tension-filled relationship with them. 
  • If you get too far behind, you might find yourself at the wrong end of an eviction hearing.

It’s important to note that if a tenant is late on rent, they have no legal recourse to requesting maintenance. This means that their maintenance request can be denied until rent has been paid. 

Small Fees Add Up

Late rent fees might be something some renters just see as a cost of doing business if their budget is tight. While it's true that some financial emergencies might mean having to pay a late fee on occasion, there is also a risk of falling so far behind that you start paying late fees every month. 

Depending on the fees, you might wind up paying a full extra month of rent's worth of money every 10 months or so. In effect, you're paying more for your single-family rental home than is listed in the lease agreement you signed. Pay it every month on time to prevent a financial avalanche.

Say Goodbye to Your Lease

5 day grace period for rent

What is the legal grace period for paying rent? It's the span of time you have to pay rent before you might be subject to legal consequences. If you're consistently too late on rent, then you might face losing your lease. If you like the single-family home you're renting, then you might not be able to keep it. This can happen in two ways.

  1. If you fall too far behind, you might wind up being subjected to eviction proceedings. You'll likely still have the chance to pay what you owe, but there might be more fees and attorney and court costs to boot.
  2. Your landlord might just decide not to renew your lease when your time is up.

Taking the Credit Hit

Whether your landlord gives you a 5-day grace period for rent or you just have the 2 days mandated by Texas law, your credit might be at risk after your grace period is up. Not all landlords report their tenants to credit bureaus, so you'll have to ask yours if you want to know for sure. 

It might be more likely if you rent from a property management company that handles many leases and tenants or if your landlord uses an automated rent payment collection system that generates related reports.

Another way you might take a credit hit is if your rent gets so far behind that the account is turned over to a collection agency. That will definitely be reported to the credit bureaus.

Benefits to Paying Rent on Time

As mentioned several times already, paying rent on time has numerous benefits you can enjoy.

  • No Late Fees: Big or small, late rent fees add up over time. Some emergencies might be unavoidable from time to time, but consistent late fees might be just throwing money away.
  • Better Landlord Relationship: A stronger landlord relationship with you as a tenant puts you in a better position when you need maintenance, renewal, or favors from them.
  • Peace of Mind: When you waste the early part of the month scrambling to catch up on rent, you inevitably put off other things but then have less time and energy to deal with them later when you actually can do something about them.
  • Build Rental History: Making payments on time gives you a better background as a renter. Even if you love the single-family home in Texas you rent right now, you might want to rent something else later. Your background as a renter will be reviewed.
  • Good Standing: Having your rental agreement in good standing means you don't have to worry about warning letters leading up to potential eviction proceedings. This can leave you looking for a new place to live in a hurry and on very unfavorable terms.
  • Independence: Being financially responsible enough to pay your rent on time every month is a hallmark of accountability and adulthood. You'll feel a lot better about yourself if you do that.

Conclusion

How many days grace period to pay rent? For a single-family home in Texas, it's often two days. Your lease can tell you, but so can your property management. If you have questions, then contact us.

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