Can you charge a $20 a day late charge on late rent?

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Can you charge a $20 a day late charge on late rent?

We have a so-called new manager of the mobile home park that I rent a lot from. I’ve lived here 5 years with no late charges and now these people want to charge $20 per day in late fees. The landlord went up on the rent to fix the road 3 years ago and it’s still not fixed.

Asked on April 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you have a written lease, its terms must be honored while it is in force (e.g. before its termination or expiration date). Neither party may add or change terms, like adding a late fee, while a written lease is in effect, though the landlord may add a fee for a lease renewal.

2) If  you don't have a written lease, then terms or rent or fees may be changed on 30 days notice.

3) The landlord can charge more rent for pretty much any reason (again, on 30 days notice for an oral or verbal lease, or when a written lease is up for renewal). If the lease provided that the extra money was to be used for a specific purpose and it was not, then you may have grounds for a legal action; or even if the lease did not so provide, but the road is so bad as to impede access or make it difficulty, you may be able to bring a legal action on the grounds that you're not getting what (safe access) you are paying for. However, while you may be able to force the landlord in these situations to make the repairs, that doesn't affect his ability to raise the rent at the appropriate time.


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