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How tenants with verbal agreements can protect themselves

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Q: I am having problems with my landlord and I am hoping that you can offer some suggestions. I rented a house about three years ago. When I interviewed with the landlord, I explained that I was paid only twice a month and the days were always different and that I would sometimes be late on rent but never more than three or four days. The landlord said that was OK.

I signed a lease and all was well the first year as I was late a few times but always paid in full within a few days of the first.

Then the landlord started demanding rent on or before the first only and said he would charge late fees. Is this not a breach of contract? And then he said the late fees were $75 per day. That seems really high. Is this legal? I paid them reluctantly but now every month or so I get a "change of rules" letter taped to my door with threats of eviction if not followed.