When a renter won’t pay on time

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 Q. I have a renter who for two years, always pays the rent late and as per the lease, she has to pay a penalty. She is not doing it. I have reminded her every month to pay the late fees. Is it possible to not renew her lease for that reason? The lease also asked for to take rental insurance, but she hasn’t done it.

A. Being a landlord can be sticky.

And being a landlord in New Jersey can be even stickier.

While the terms of the lease control lots, most residential tenants are not required to move out at the end of the lease term in New Jersey except for good cause, said Anthony Vignier, a Kearny-based attorney and certified financial planner.

“Good cause can include non-payment of rent, late rent payments and other major non-compliance issues,” he said. “The problem you may have with terminating the lease in your situation is that by your failure to take action for two years, a court may decide that you waived your rights to past late payments by not having taken action earlier if you ultimately have to file an eviction proceeding.”

With that said, read your lease again, Vignier said. Most leases provide that any changes including termination of a lease require some form of notice – usually 60 days written notice.

You should comply with the lease terms exactly as written and send the notice, he said. If the tenant does not leave after that, you should seek legal counsel for your particular situation.

You should also be aware that if you do nothing, the lease will renew under its existing terms or it will convert to a month-to-month rental, Vignier said.

To collect the late fees, Vignier said, you should first make a written demand to the tenant for the late fees.

“If they are not paid your only other option is to file suit for the fees,” he said. “Collecting rents and late fees is a separate action from an eviction proceeding.”

Vignier says choosing the correct court depends on the amount owed. Check with your county’s court clerk for jurisdictional limits.

Email your questions to moc.p1603549150leHye1603549150noMJN1603549150@ksA1603549150.

This story was first posted in May 2015.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.