B”H thank you so much for your quick reply.
1. If a person rents an apartment from a large real estate corporation that (I assume) has both Jews and non-Jews who own it/own stock in it, and the resident is charged a late fee for their monthly rent payment. May I (a Jew) pay the late fee without transgressing any money laws (would it be a Jew charging another Jew interest?) The late fee seems to be a fixed amount and not a percentage of the rent. The late fee is a one time, fixed fee, however there is more than one late charge as more than one month of rent is considered late. So if there are four months late rent, the fee is $50 per month, for $200 total in late fees (but it is a fixed fee and does not grow from there…)
2. If the same situation as above presents itself, only the owners of the apartment building/real estate company are all Jews. It is a privately owned company, not on the stock market. The majority is owned by a Jew, but there seem to be several non-jews on the board/ in CEO/ leadership roles in the company. Would the answer be the same?
Although the company is owned by Jews and the fee is being paid to Jews, s they are the ones running the company, it is permitted. The reason is because a one time fine ( knas) which doesn’t increase with time in such a situation is not considered ribbis, but a way of insuring that the rent be paid on time. Even though the next month there will be a second fine, that is also a one time fee for the next months rent.
Y:D 177-14, 15, Rema 177-14, Shach ibid 31.