Can my landlord ask for the late fees well after the fact?

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Can my landlord ask for the late fees well after the fact?

I have never paid a late fee when my rent was paid late. It is in my lease that my rent is due by the 2nd of each month and a 10% fee is charged for late payments. My landlord has never asked me to pay the late fees. We are getting ready to move out and my landlord handed me a bill for all of the late fees incurred during my tenancy. Do I have to pay out of pocket or can I surrender my security deposit in lieu of payment?

Asked on January 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) A landlord is not required to ask for the late fees at the time of late payment. If your lease clearly specified when a late fee would be due, the landlord may now seek late fees for all  times you were late, pursuant to the terms of the lease.

2) Generally, you are not suppposed to simply surrender your security deposit--which does not mean that it does not happen. (Of course, if the landlord agrees to accept the deposit, then it's fine.) Note that if you owe other money to the landord, such as for unpaid rent, for late fees which exceed the size of the security deposit, and/or for damage to the rental premises, the landlord will be entitled to sue you for any amounts not covered by the deposit. On the other hand, if the deposit is the same size as what  you owe (or even a few dollars larger), you will probably not get any complaints from the landlord.


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