Average Late Fees on Rent: How Much It Costs

On average, late fees on rent tend to fall between 5% and 10% of the monthly rent. For a $1,000 rental, that would mean a late fee ranging from $50 to $100. Fees vary widely – some landlords don’t charge at all, where some may charge hundreds of dollars.

Precisely what you may pay depends on where you live, the late fee clause in your lease, and more. Read on to learn more about the average late fees on rent and the factors that may affect late fees.

For a one-bedroom apartment, the average monthly rent is $1,617 (as of October 2020). Based on a 5% to 10% late fee, that would create a late fee range of about $81 to $162. For a two-bedroom apartment, the average rent is $1,909. Using that same 5% to 10% range, the late fee would come out somewhere in the range of $95 to $191.

However, not all landlords adhere to the average. Some will charge less, while other mays aim higher. Overall, late fees above 10% of the monthly rent amount are fairly rare. In some cases, local late fee laws prevent landlords from charging more than 5% or 10%.

Late Fee Laws

As mentioned above, late fee laws vary by state. At times, individual cities or counties may have additional regulations as well that impact how much a landlord can charge.

Generally, late fee laws place an upper limit on how much a landlord can charge. In Delaware, for instance, state law restricts late fees to 5% of the monthly rent amount. This means, if you rented an apartment for $800 a month, you couldn’t be charged more than $40 as a late fee if you were late paying one month’s rent.

However, some states have no laws that impact how much a landlord can charge. For example, that’s the case in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, and many other states.

Other late fee laws are somewhat vague. For instance, in California, the fee just has to be “reasonable,” but there isn’t a clear definition regarding what would or wouldn’t qualify.

Regardless of whether there are any legal limits that impact how much a landlord can charge, details about possible late fees almost universally have to be outlined in the lease. This includes how much the landlord charges and when a fee can be assessed.

Other Factors Influencing Late Fees

There are several other factors beyond local laws that can impact how much a landlord charges for late rent fees. Here are a few of the most significant ones.

Lease Clauses

As mentioned above, in nearly all cases, the landlord has to list details about late fees in the lease agreement. If that clause isn’t present, the landlord may have no legal right to charge any fee, even if state and local law allows it.

Usually, the landlord needs to cover a few points in that clause (or in multiple clauses). First, they have to state how much the late fee is if you are late. Second, they typically have to announce when that late fee kicks in, such as how many days late you have to be before the charge occurs.

It’s important to note that late fee clauses do have to align with federal, state, and local law. If a clause is illegal based on any of those legal systems, it isn’t enforceable. You can’t be required to pay an illegal late fee, regardless of whether you signed a lease that includes one.

Percentage vs. Flat-Fee

Landlords often have two choices for calculating late fees. They can charge a percentage of the rent or may opt for a flat-fee instead.

The examples above are all percentage-based. But in some cases, landlords may prefer the simplicity of flat-fee late fees. It creates a set amount that they charge when a tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, which can be easier to calculate and track.

With the flat-fee approach, landlords may simply round off the percentage amount. For example, if your monthly rent is $950 and your landlord is allowed to charge up to 5% in a late fee, going the percentage route results in a late fee of $47.50. For ease, your landlord may choose to round that number down to $45. However, they can’t round up to $50, as that would exceed the 5% limit.

If they manage multiple properties with different rent amounts, they may also choose to charge the same late fee regardless of the monthly rent prices. For example, a landlord could charge all tenants with rents at or above $600 a flat-fee of $30, just to make lease creation and fee tracking easier.

Monthly Rent Amount

Whether a landlord uses a flat-fee or a percentage-based approach, the monthly rent amount typically plays a major role in how much a landlord charges. A late fee is a penalty that’s supposed to discourage renters from missing their payment deadline, so it needs to be large enough to sting a bit.

However, late fees also need to be reasonable based on the tenant who is occupying the property. That’s why many states have late-fee limits based on percentages, ensuring lower-income households in properties with lower rents aren’t overburdened by a single late fee.

The Property Itself

Many landlords view late fees on certain properties differently. If a property is harder to rent out, landlords may be less inclined to levee high fees.

For example, high-cost luxury properties can be challenging to find tenants for, which may influence how the landlord uses rent fees. This is especially true if the fee could incidentally encourage the renter to leave, causing a difficult-to-fill vacancy.

In that case, the landlord may opt for a small, flat-fee. At times, they may forgo fees entirely or at least offer a significant grace period before the fee kicks in.

The same can apply to properties that have something unique about them that isn’t highly desirable. This could include unconventional features or finishes, or drawbacks that reduce the property’s appeal, even if the property is still completely livable.

However, if a property is easy to find new tenants for, landlords may be more aggressive with their late fees, pushing the limits of what’s legally allowed. They aren’t concerned about maintaining a renter, so they won’t be as likely to offer much leeway.

It never hurts to ask your landlord for an extension. Especially if it’s a one-time ocurrence and you have a good reason, many landlords are amenable to giving you a few extra days to pay the rent. For more guidance on paying the rent late, click here for our ultimate guide on paying the rent late.


Ultimately, the average late fees on rent tend to come in around 5% to 10% of the monthly rent price. However, there are many factors that could result in different rates. Review your lease and local laws to determine what you can or would be charged. That way, you fully understand how late fees may impact you.