I have a oral month-to-month lease, canmy landlord charge a $10 a day late fee?

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I have a oral month-to-month lease, canmy landlord charge a $10 a day late fee?

When I gave my first month rent there was no communication about a late fee. It is the second of the month and I received a handwritten note on my door from my landlord stating my rent was due on the 27th and I owe him $10 a day late fee. However no late fee was ever discussed when I moved in. I have read in the MD landlord/tenant codes that they cannot charge a late fee of more then 5%. I have told my landlord this and they said their attorney told them it was more then fair to charge a $10 a day late fee. What are my rights as a tenant? I don’t want to be taken advantage of by this landlord.

Asked on July 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is my understanding that you are indeed correct: a late fee in Maryland can not exceed 5%.  So even if he told you that his "lawyer" said that $10 is fine, I would not pay it.  First of all you have an oral lease for a month to month tenancy.  If there was no mention of the late fee then I would assume that can not be applied (you did not agree to it in the contract) but even if the law allows it, under the law we are again back to the fact that it can not be more than 5%.  Also under the law there is generally a grace period that allows you a certain amount of time to pay the rent after the due date before it is deemed late.  Seems here he asked 5 days after the due date so I am guessing it is 5 days in Maryland.  Why not get a written lease so that you know what your rights are.  Good luck.


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