My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: NJ
I was late paying rent one month ($432 of a total rent of $1275) on an apartment with two roommates. The printed rent receipt invoice said that the late fee was 5% (so, roughly $60). I was fine with that. No problem.
However...and this is where things get a little special...the one roommate who is on the lease said that the ACTUAL late fee ends up being nearly $250! He claims that the complex tacks on legal fees the first day that the rent is late, because they instantly start filing for eviction and forward that charge to the tenant.
Something's strange, because:
1) This roommate was supposed to add me to the lease and never did, so I never got to see the document to begin with. I have no idea if he was blowing smoke.
2) In NJ, rent has to be late for a significant amount of time before eviction proceedings could start. Two weeks isn't quite gonna cut it. I believe it's 30 days or more.
3) He claims that the complex sent him a letter asking for the money. How odd. I never saw this document.
4) He said that, before I moved in, the old roommate was late with rent once, and that they had to pay this amount. Being that he and the roommate were there for 6 years before I ever moved in, I (and a whole passel of my friends) are inclined to think that they were repeat lateness offenders, which may have caused the landlord to levy a higher late fee on them.
At any rate, the whole thing sounds very odd. I haven't paid him the money (I paid the rent, however), because frankly, that sort of late fee would be akin to more than 20% of the total rent, and that's higher than the state max. He's shown me no documentation. It's just not up to snuff.
I just wanted to get someone's take on this to see if I'm being a cuckoo bird. The lease is month-to-month.