Doesthe lawlimit excessive late fees when none stipulated in bill or agreement?

We retained a landscaping service to do our landscaping. The services consisted of mowing and occasional trimming, leafing, and raking. A rate was agreed upon and nothing else. We have had the service for about four months. 2 months ago, we left the county for an extended work assignment. We came back to find three bills for prior services. 2 were for current services and did not include any notice on late fees or late payment. A 3d bill came which imposed late fees of $25 for bills unpaid after 30 days – this represents a late fee in excess of 30%.

Asked on October 8, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are wise to have mentioned the agreement that you entered into and the invoice in that the written agreement signed by you and the landscaping service controls the obligations owed to you by the landscaper and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law.

If you have carefully read your agreement with the landscaper and there is no reference in any of the documents that you signed concerning the 30% late fee, then most likely the landscaper cannot charge such a fee and it is a penalty in violation of public policy that is void.

In many invoices there is a 1.5% finance charge for the unpaid invoice (18% per annum) which is allowable in most states.

Given the circumstances on the perceived excessive charges, I suggest that you contact the landscaping company and discuss your displeasure for these seemingly excessive charges.

Good luck.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.