Helping Tenants Understand Grace Periods

Grace periods are great. Who among us hasn’t forgotten a deadline for a payment and breathed a sigh of relief when we realized we were still in the grace period? Unfortunately, though, tenants frequently misunderstand grace periods and how they work in relation to holiday weekends. Helping tenants understand grace periods is the key to a successful and profitable relationship says Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi.
If the rent is due on the first of the month, and the lease allows for a three day grace period, can you pay without penalty if the grace period falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday? While this question might be giving you flashbacks to algebra class, the answer is simple: no.
Tenants are given three days of a grace period as a courtesy, though most leases say that rent is due on or before the first of the month. The grace period exists so that tenants do not have to rush to the bank, post office or apartment complex office to take care of their rent payment on the weekends or on a holiday. Landlord-tenant laws exist to ensure that rent is only required to be paid on weekdays and non-holidays.
Some tenants will try to pull a fast one when the first falls on a Thursday before a long holiday weekend. They will insist that the grace period includes the weekend, plus the holiday Monday, leaving them until the 6th of the month to pay rent. The reality is that as a minimum, the grace period should extend to the third day of the month.
Common sense should reign supreme when educating tenants about grace periods. Be kind but firm when reasserting due dates. Rent is due on the first day of the month, and to give folks some wiggle room to include weekends and holidays, the grace period extends the deadline an extra three days.
Find yourself in a dispute about grace periods with a tenant? Make sure your lease spells out in explicit terms when rent is due. It’ll be easy to point to down the line should anyone try to interpret the rules in their own way. At the end of the day, grace periods exist as a favor to your tenants. Anyone trying to push your limits needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Assert your authority as property owner and/or landlord and fight the grace period revision as soon as it becomes an issue. Appeasing tenants who are trying to get around the rules will only result in a headache.
If the grace period violations become a regular problem, try to work with the tenant. Not everyone is paid at the beginning of the month. Offer reasonable accommodations for renters struggling to make ends meet. They will appreciate the kindness!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management