It's a question we get all the time: “I had [insert excuse here], and I've always been a good tenant, so will you please waive my late fee?” Sorry, but no.
Late fees are a very important part of enforcing a lease agreement and ensuring that tenants pay on time. We charge the maximum late fee that he courts will generally allow, which in Georgia tends to be 10% of the rent. When someone with a $1,000 lease has to pay a late fee of $100, it's a pretty solid wake-up call that late payment won't be tolerated. It's very important to set a tone early on with every tenant that late payment is a big deal, and it's not something that we'll just overlook or let slide from time to time.
But beside the deterrent effect, there is also another good reason that we don't consider waiving late fees: fairness. Quite simply, it isn't fair to pick and choose who gets a late fee waived and who doesn't. Every tenant needs to be treated equally, with no one getting special consideration. It wouldn't be right for us to waive a late fee for someone who has been a long-term tenant while not waiving a late fee for someone who is relatively new just because they haven't established a relationship with us. The only fair way to handle things is to follow exactly what the lease says.
And from an owner's perspective, it isn't fair to the owner to have a late fee waived, regardless of what the reason the tenant had for paying late. After all, the owner also has bills to pay, usually including a mortgage on the house, so if the owner is having to deal with not having the money to pay those bills, then he deserves some compensation for the hassle and for late fees that he himself might have to be paying due to his inability to pay the bills because he didn't receive the money on time.
So, for many reasons, we will not waive late fees. It doesn't mean that we don't like you. It just means that we're being fair and following the lease. Please keep this in mind and make sure that your payments are received on time.