Q: I own a condo unit. I paid my association fee late by one day so I was charged the late fee of $50 called for in bylaws. The following month I paid all payments “on time” but forgot to pay the $50 fee.

Basically the only thing unpaid was the $50 late fee but I was still charged $50 every month after the first month. I read and reread the governing documents and there is only the statement about a $50 late fee if the payment is late but says nothing else at all concerning fines for missing a “late fee.” Can they charge a late fee for an unpaid late fee when all regular payments are on time?

A: You have certainly fallen into the late fee trap. A payment will be considered paid on time when it is paid in full. When you were late on that first payment, your account had an obligation due equal to the amount of your monthly payment plus $50. The following month you paid your monthly payment but your account was still short by $50. Because the account was short and not paid in full, you did not pay the full amount owed on time.

In some circumstances, you can get the association to waive that second late fee and you certainly should try. They would not be obligated to waive the second fee but they might.

Because of the amount ($50), it may not be worth hiring an attorney to spend a lot of time reading up on your state laws regarding condominiums and late fees and how and under what circumstances they can be assessed. You could look up the laws on the Internet.

Keep in mind that credit card companies have been handling their accounts this way for years. If you charge $1,000 in the first month you have the card and don’t pay it in full, the credit card company will charge you interest on all of the purchases you made from day one. If you charge $1,000 the second month and add the amount you owed on the prior month, you will continue to pay interest on the entire bill until you net the account to zero and start over.

What you need to do is to pay down your condominium bill in full so that the account falls to zero.