AgentRentals

Is $1,000 late-fee charge illegal?

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Q: Last September, I was unable to pay my rent ($1,000 per month), and incurred a late fee of $100. I paid all of October's rent, and every month's rent from that time onward, but I wasn't able to pay September's rent until now. I've just paid it, by paying double this month, and my landlord tells me that I owe him $1,000 in late fees -- $100 for each of the 10 months that September's rent remained unpaid. Is this legal? --Amy P. A: Your landlord's way of doing business is quite strange. Most landlords would never allow a tenant to remain on the property for months after failing to pay an entire month's rent, let alone the late fee. They would send a notice to pay or quit, and if the tenant remained, they'd evict and use the deposit to cover both the unpaid rent and the late fee. Assuming the late-fee policy was part of the lease or rental agreement, and the late fee was described as "additional rent" or the lease otherwise made it clear that the deposit could be...