Can a landlord retroactivly charge late fees?

UPDATED: Nov 18, 2011

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Can a landlord retroactivly charge late fees?

I am being charged retroactively for late fees. It was fixed rate for $50 per late month. There is a late payment clause in the agreement, but nothing pertaining to whether he needs to manifest the rent increase to the tenants. I was not aware we were being charged and he never told us we were being charged. In fact, during the walk-through of the property when we moved out, he said I’d be getting most of my deposit back (never mentioned the late fees). The only time I was notified was when he sent my the remainder of the deposit, with the late fees deducted. Do I have a fighting chance?

Asked on November 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Utah


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Good question. If your landlord never charged you late fees for payments over the course of your lease and then sprang the charges on you at move out taking the amount from your security deposit, most likely what he or she did is a violation of your written lease.

Carefully read your lease as to what your security deposit can be used for. My experience is that the security deposit is for damages and nothing else. I would write the former landlord requesting the full amount of your security deposit back by a certain date. If not returned by the date demanded, your recourse seems to be small claims court.

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