What is a late notice? How do you write one?

late notice

Writing a late rent notice is an unavoidable part of being a landlord. The notice of a late rent payment has three purposes. First, it reminds the tenant to pay the overdue rent promptly, informs about late fees, and then warns the tenant of the consequences of nonpayment. However, a late rent letter has a more important purpose — it’s a formal document necessary if you choose to start an eviction process.

Of course, being a landlord is easier when all tenants pay their rent on time. However, even the most diligent tenant can forget to pay their rent money by the first of the month. Of course, some tenants have serious financial difficulties and cannot pay rent. But in all cases, writing a late notice for rent is a vital part of the rent collection process.

This article is a complete guide to dealing with overdue rent and how to encourage tenants to make rent payments on time. You will also find a helpful late rent notice template and step-by-step instructions on writing a late rent notice.

What is a Late Rent Notice?

A late rent notice is a legal document sent to the tenant informing them that their rental payment is late. The notice for nonpayment should include late charges and warn of possible legal action if the tenant does not pay the overdue amount and late fee within a certain time period.

The past-due rent notice can only include the terms stated in the rental agreement. For example, the lease terms should consist of the following:

  • The monthly rental amount
  • Due date
  • Grace period (optional)
  • Late rent fees you will charge (optional)

In addition, state laws regulate the amount of notice you must give the tenant to pay the total amount. 

Also called a “Pay or Quit Notice,” a late rent notice allows tenants to remedy the situation and continue living in the unit. Therefore, the letter also provides steps to pay the rent, the total amount due, and the time frame for payment.

Other names for notice of late rent include the following: 

  • Demand Notice for Nonpayment of Rent
  • Notice to Cure
  • Demand for Past Due Rent
  • Failure to Pay Rent Notice

Why it’s Important to Send a Late Rent Notice to a Tenant

A late rent notice is an important part of the rent collection process to collect unpaid rent money. The formal notice to tenants proves they are aware of the consequences of nonpayment of rent. In addition, it gives them a chance to resolve the situation without fear of eviction. 

In most cases, you can expect to receive the rent payment immediately.

Here are three reasons why it’s important to send a late rent letter when a tenant misses a payment:

  • The formal letter reminds the tenant that the overdue rent payment must be paid promptly.
  • You can charge late fees, which may encourage tenants to make monthly rent payments on time in the future.
  • The late rent notice is an official document necessary in eviction proceedings.

Should you always send a notice for late rent? A quick phone call may be enough to resolve the issue. For example, maybe they became ill, experienced temporary financial hardship, or were unaware of payment issues with their bank. Therefore, you can often resolve the payment situation without sending notice.

However, there are a few things to consider about the importance of always sending legal notices of unpaid rent. These are the following:

  • Tenants could get into the habit of missing rent due dates because there are no consequences.
  • Charging late fees motivates tenants to make timely payments.
  • Failing to notify tenants of nonpayment of rent could make it difficult to evict a delinquent tenant.
  • You have to run a business, and late rent payments impact your cash flow and cause you to miss paying bills.

When You Should Send a Late Rent Notice

You can only send a notice for late rent payments after a certain period has passed. Local state landlord-tenant laws may determine how quickly you can send a legal notice of late rent. In addition, some states have a grace period for nonpayment of rent. Typically, it takes from five to 15 days. 

You can send the notice the day after the due date in states where no grace period is stipulated for late rental payments. If rent is due on the first of the month, you can send a demand for payment on the second day. However, you must give the tenant a certain period of time to pay rent. Depending on the state, this ranges from three to 14 days.

Some landlords specify a grace period in the rental agreement terms. Therefore, you must wait until it expires — usually between two and five days. Then, you can write and send the late rent letter the day after the grace period. 

In most cases, contacting the tenant personally before demanding payment is best. If the tenant promises to pay, wait a few days for the money to arrive in your bank account. However, if you are considering an eviction for nonpayment, send a proper notice immediately after the grace period expires.

Rent Grace Periods by State

The rent grace period starts the day after rent is legally due, according to the lease agreement or state laws. For example, if your state has a five-day grace period, and the tenant pays on the seventh, they incur late rent charges for two days. 

With no state-mandated grace period, you can serve a late rent notice and start charging late fees from the day after the rent due date. However, state rental laws specify you must allow a certain number of days to pass before serving an eviction notice.

It’s good to note that states without a specified grace period typically allow grace periods to be addressed in the rental lease.

Here is a list of rent grace periods for each state.

StateState-Mandated Grace Period (In Days)Days to Pay RentLaws
Alabama07§ 35-9A-421
Alaska07AS 34.03.230
Arizona05§ 33-1368
Arkansas05§ 18-17-901
California03§ 1161(2)
Colorado010§ 13-40-104(d)
Connecticut9 (month-to-month) or 4 (week-to-week)2018-R-0232
Delaware05§ 5502
District of Columbia5§ 42–3505.31
Florida03§ 83.56(3)
Georgia0No set time frame§ 44-7-50
Hawaii05§ 666-3
Idaho03§ 6-303(2)
Illinois05735 ILCS 5/9-210
Indiana010§ 32-31-1-6
Kansas010§ 58-2507
Kentucky07§ 383.660(2)
Louisiana05Art. 4701
Maryland00§ 8-401
Massachusetts014Ann. ch, 186, §§ 11 to 12
Michigan07MCL  §554.134(2)
Mississippi03§ 89-7-27
Missouri010§ 441.040
Montana03§ 70-24-422(2)
Nebraska07§ 76-1431(2)
Nevada07§ 40.2512
New Hampshire07§ 540.3
New Jersey00 or 30 days if you have previously accepted late rent payments§ 2A:18-61.2(b)
New Mexico03§ 47-8-33(D)
New York514§711 (2)
North Carolina510§42-3
North Dakota03§ 47-32-01.4
Oklahoma0541 § 131(B)
Oregon06 (month-to-month) or 3 (week-to-week)§ 90.394(2)
Pennsylvania010§ 250.501(b)
Rhode Island155§ 34-18-35
South Carolina05§ 27-40-710(b)
South Dakota03§ 21-16-1(4)
Tennessee014§ 66-28-505(a)(2)
Texas03§ 24.005
Utah03§ 78B-6-802(1)(c)
Vermont014§ 4467(a)
Virginia55§ 55.1-1245(f)
Washington014§ 59.12.030(3)
West Virginia00§55-3A-1
Wisconsin014§ 704.17(2)(a)
Wyoming03§ 1-21-1002

Rent grace periods for each state

How to Serve a Late Rent Notice to a Tenant

When serving a late rent notice to a tenant, it is crucial to follow the proper steps. The notice is an official document that could be necessary for an eviction lawsuit. Therefore, double-check the lease agreement terms for late payments and charges. Next, check with state laws for the approved legal way to deliver the notice.

Typically, there are four ways to serve proper notice. These are: 

  • Send via certified mail
  • Use an overnight courier service
  • Deliver the notice in person
  • Tape the document to the front door

Mailing the notice or delivering by courier is usually the best delivery method because you have proof that the tenant received the letter. This method can make eviction actions more successful because you can prove the tenant received proper notice. 


Contact Us!

At RPM Central Valley, we specialize in local property management.

To learn more about the services we can offer you, contact us today by calling (209) 572-2222 or click here to connect with us online.