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Paying Rent a Day Late? Here's What to Do


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Will Southall

Will Southall

a year ago - 7 minute read

As a wise person once said, all our actions have consequences. When you pay rent a day late, you can expect something to happen in the days, weeks or months that follow.

How severe the consequences depend on how late you are with your rent and how you handle the lateness with your landlord.

Generally, being a day late on rent shouldn’t cause too much of an issue. But you should still tell your landlord about it. Why? Because of consequences.

In this article, we’ll explain the consequences of paying rent a day late, explain what a typical late fee for rent is, and share our advice on how to tell your landlord rent will be late.

Can You Pay Rent a Day Late UK?

You should always try to pay your rent on time on the day it’s due. Paying via standing order is the best way to ensure you pay on time every month.

However, life happens, and if you’re strapped for cash for a day or two, you can pay your landlord rent a day late.

When you do this, your landlord won’t be able to charge you a late fee, but you may inconvenience them and/or damage your relationship.

You should only pay rent a day late if it’s absolutely necessary. You should also tell your landlord you’ll be late on rent as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn how to do this in the best way.

Related article: 10+ Most common & unfair landlord deposit deductions

What Happens if Rent is Late UK?

Depending on how late your rent payment is, different things can happen.

If you know you will be paying rent a day late, you should tell your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible.

While you may think you can simply get away with paying rent a day late without them noticing, they probably will notice and won’t be happy.

If you tell them rent will be a day late (and pay it a day later, as promised!), you’ll appear well-organised and trustworthy. They’ll also expect the late payment and won’t have to chase you up unnecessarily.

If you only pay rent a day late, your landlord won’t be able to charge you a late rent fee. This is because, in the UK, landlords cannot charge a late rent payment until the rent is more than 14 days overdue.

Related article: How lifetime deposits can help with rent deposit

What is a Typical Late Fee For Rent UK?

You can only be charged a late fee on rent if it’s mentioned in your tenancy agreement. If it’s not mentioned, your landlord can’t suddenly decide to charge you.

Late fees for rent in the UK can vary significantly depending on how late your rent payment is and what the current Bank of England interest rate is.

This is because landlords are only allowed to charge a late fee that’s up to 3% more than the Bank of England interest rate for each day the rent is outstanding.

If your tenancy agreement says otherwise, it may not be legally enforceable. You should do your research or seek legal advice if you think your late fee is unlawful.

Because the interest rates and the number of days your rent is late by can vary, it’s impossible to give an average fee cost.

However, you can work out your late rent fee by checking the Bank of England interest rate and calculating how overdue you are.

Related article: 10+ Things landlords DON’T want tenants to know

Paying Rent a Day Late? How to Tell a Landlord Rent Will Be Late in 5 Steps

Paying rent a day late can be a daunting prospect – for you and your landlord. No one likes falling behind on deadlines, especially when those deadlines could be cause for eviction!

Telling your landlord rent is late should be done in the right way. If you don’t do it right, it could trouble them and make them untrusting of you, which you want to avoid at all costs.

Here’s how to tell your landlord rent will be late in 5 simple steps.

1. Give as much notice as possible

One of the best things you can do for your landlord is to tell them as early as possible if you know your rent will be late this month.

While it may be tempting to procrastinate on it or hope you’ll be able to afford it when the time comes, this isn’t the best move.

Providing notice shows your landlord you are honest, organised, able to communicate well and are respectful of their deadlines.

Plus, if they know to expect the late payment, they can make other arrangements themselves to ensure they aren’t in a bad financial position when they need to pay their own bills.

Related article: Landlord ghosting you? Here’s what to do

2. Don’t overexplain

You’ll want to be honest with your landlord, but it’s best not to be too honest.

While you may be late on rent because you spent money on something “non-essential” that month, you don’t want to come across as financially irresponsible to your landlord.

Don’t lie or give unbelievable excuses, but don’t overexplain yourself either. Stick to the basic facts and keep your reasoning for the late rent brief.

3. Offer reassurance

Late rent can be a worry for landlords. Even if you’ve never been late on rent before, most long-term landlords have experienced good tenants turning “bad” before.

One late rent payment could be a bad sign for landlords that you may slip into months and months of rent arrears, leading to evictions, court proceedings, overdue mortgage payments of their own, and having to find someone new.

While that may sound a bit extreme, many landlords can immediately jump to this conclusion, especially if they’ve had a bad experience before! If this truly is a one-off, do your best to reassure them about the late rent.

For example, if you had an unexpected bill to pay, reassure them that it’s not a monthly occurrence, so this won’t happen again.

Or, if you’ve just changed jobs and haven’t been paid yet, reassure them that this will definitely be fixed by [insert date here] and that it’s a one-off.

Related article: What SHOULD & SHOULDN’T happen during landlord visits

4. Apologise for the inconvenience

While you may not think paying rent a day late or a few days late will be an inconvenience to your landlord, it could very well be.

Landlords often have mortgages for where you live, so they may rely on your rent being paid by a certain date. Otherwise, they could be left unable to pay their own bills.

While paying rent a day late shouldn’t make too much of a difference to your landlord, it could still be a huge worry for them.

Even if you think your landlord is awful, well-off, loaded, money-grabbing, etc., etc., try to be understanding when communicating the late rent to your landlord.

Don’t get defensive if they are alarmed at the news, and always apologise sincerely for any inconvenience it may have caused.

Related article: 9 Ways to make a new rental feel like home

5. Work on the issue that caused the late rent

Sometimes, needing to pay rent late is out of your control.

For example, if you changed jobs and haven’t been paid yet, or you really did get an unexpected bill that needed immediate repayment.

However, if your late rent was due to something within your control, like spending too much money on “non-essentials”, you should work on the issue to avoid it happening again.

Paying rent on time is important, so it needs to be your biggest priority. If you’re unsure why you ended up unable to pay rent, do some reflection and budgeting to remedy the issue in future.

If you think the issue is a long-term financial problem, consider whether you need to make a more drastic change.

For example, if you can no longer afford your rental because of a change in salary, you may need to consider moving somewhere cheaper.

Related article: How to extend or renew a UK tenancy agreement

What is a Good Reason to Be Late on Rent?

As mentioned above in our 5-step guide on how to tell your landlord rent will be late, you shouldn’t overexplain yourself about why rent is late.

It’s best to keep it brief and only offer a reason if you think it won’t trouble your landlord. You shouldn’t lie to your landlord, but the truth can often do more harm than good.

In a landlord’s eyes, here are some good reasons to be late on rent:

  • You’ve started a new job and will be paid later than usual
  • You’ve had an unexpected change in bills
  • You’ve had a one-off large bill to pay
  • You’ve had a family bereavement that’s disrupted your life

Other reasons, like being too frivolous with your money that month or “forgetting” are not things you want to tell your landlord.

If these are true, it’s best to keep this information to yourself and consider how you can avoid it happening again next month.

Thinking About Moving Rental?

Falling behind on your rent can be a sign it’s time to move. Paying the deposit on a new place may put you off, but we have good news!

You no longer need to save up for a deposit every time you move.

For the first time ever, if you already have a deposit protected in a deposit scheme, you can transfer it to your next property.

A Lifetime Deposit will help you keep hold of £1,200 on average, which we think is pretty neat.

We are on a mission to help more people move, so if you are moving soon, don’t forget your Lifetime Deposit!

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Will Southall

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Will Southall

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