can my landlord charge me 300 in late fees each month?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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can my landlord charge me 300 in late fees each month?

I have late fees stemming from the beginning of the lease when we did not pay
everything up front but I thought I had made arrangements at the LLs office.
Apparently he did not agree to the agreement I made with the office. Now he says
i owe almost 14000 in late fees and he wont back down. He even made me sign a
paper that says I will do work for him at his other rental properties to get a
3500 a month credit to put toward the late fees……Yes I signed it but am
wondering if he can do that ….I have a feeling I am being taken advantage of.

Asked on July 19, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease, your late fees are whatever the lease says they are: a lease is a contract, after all, so if you signed a lease contractually obligating yourself to late fees, you have to pay them. $300/month late fees are high, but if you agreed to them, are very likely legal. 
(Note: if you are in subsidized housing, like housing paid for by Section 8, there are limitations on late fees; same thing if you are in rent-controlled housing.)
On the other hand, if the fees are NOT in your lease, he can't charge you them--the lease is a contract, and he can only get the fees and amounts stated in that contract.
The above said, by signing that paper, you may have now contractually obligated yourself to the fees. Given how much is at stake, you should bring the lease, the paper you signed, and anything else in writing about rent and late fees to an attorney to review with you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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