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WA Tenant considers his rent due date the last day of the 5-day "grace period"

Our WA State tenant opts to deposit rent into our bank account. The lease states that “rent is due in advance on or before the 20th. Rent due date is the the date the Landlord must receive the Tenant’s payment.” “Rent & charges must be deposited on or before the day it becomes due in accordance with the terms & conditions within this lease.” “If the rent or any other charges are not received by the Landlord on or before 5 days after the rent due date, Tenant must pay a late fee of $100.00 in addition to the rent.” The tenant usually deposits rent on the 25th (per lease, the rent is due on the 20th). This month, the rent was deposited at 4:50PM on Saturday the 24th (our bank is closed on Sundays) & the rent payment didn’t actually post to our account until Tuesday the 27th. So what’s our recourse? The tenant insists he isn't late as long as the deposit is made before the 5-day "grace period" deadline. I disagree. I say the rent is due on the date (the 20th) specified in the lease. The so-called "grace period" is not the due date and it is meant/intended to allow for any delay that may arise from mailing a check or a deposit to post to the account should a weekend or holidays occur that could cause a realistic delay in the payment posting or even the occasional personal hardship that might arise and NOT to be used as the standard practice. I have seen in other forums that the tenant's perspective is not legal or correct, but I need something to back this up. Anybody in WA have an RCW or WAC citation for me? Thanks!

Sadly, I have to say the tenant is correct. While the "due date" is the 20th, the grace period means no late fees can be assessed during that period. Especially with this clause: “If the rent or any other charges are not received by the Landlord on or before 5 days after the rent due date, Tenant must pay a late fee of $100.00 in addition to the rent.” If receiving it this late is in fact a problem for you, then you could take Denise's recomendation of changing it to a 3 day period. However, I caution you to verify what state law is. In Texas, I have to allow a 3 day grace period, before I can asses any fees or file any type of eviction. In my lease, I can extend that (i.e, 5 days as your lease has done), but regardless of my lease, the law allowas AT LEAST 3 days, no less, and the tenant has until the end of the day of that grace period.
You are not going to like my response to this but here goes anyway. You did this to your self! That's right all of this went away for me when I took the so called "grace period" out of my leases. This grace period is you giving your tenant permission to misbehave. It is your tenants responsibility to account for weekends and holidays not yours. Take the grace period out of your contract and start using the date stamp on the envelope from the post office as your guideline for when you received the money (this works great in court). DO NOT SEND THEM A NOTICE THAT THEY ARE LATE! as Justin R has told you because you will end up looking like an idiot and your tenant can walk that right into a court and use it against you. They are not technically late as you gave them a grace period in writing on a contract. I am assuming that you didn't outline why and how that grace period can be used right? So a court will beat you over the head for trying to stipulate how it should be used now. As for deposit into your bank by the last minute. It is still in there by the last minute. Just as you do not have control over weekends and holidays and your tenant must make proper arrangements to get their rent to you on time, your tenant doesn't have control over your bank and their procedures and processes. You can not say the rent was late when they have a deposit slip that has been date and time stamped that they relinquished the funds to your account. This is an issue you have with your bank please don't take it out on your tenants.  On another note I have a feeling that there is something more going on between you and your tenant and that you are just looking for any reason you can to go after them. If this is the case you really need to evaluate having that tenant, how you screen your tenants, and even if you need to be a landlord at all. This game takes patients, knowledge and experience. If you are finding your self in a situation that is irritating to you please do yourself and your tenants a favor read a few books on land lording and find someone in your area that is successful at this and talk to them, see if they will mentor you. Yes even if you have to pay them something for it you should still do it. I am not saying this to hurt your feelings but I believe your tenants deserve better and so do you. So take the time to figure this one thing out because this isn't just your life you hold in your hands it is your tenants too.
Wow!  I am on both sides of this circumstance in that I am a landlord and a renter.  As a renter and owing rent by the 1st but having the same grace period...I must admit I take advantage of the grace period to manage and submit my payment on the 5th.  I have found the longer I keep the funds in my account, the is the rub....I would recommend an amendment to the rental lease decreasing the grace period to 3 days and tenant can deposit up until...midnight!  In the fact his practice is to use the grace that is given...shorten the grace period and get your money sooner. :)  Hope this helps.
I hope this is constructive but tenants will try to get away with anything. If the Due date is stated in the lease that is the due date not the grace period. Send them a notice of late rent and demand for late fee. Show them the date you received the money. They will need to deposit money earlier or deposit cash directly. If they do not comply start the eviction process but be sure payments are made after the grace period. Keep records.
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