What to do about a landlord’s bad faith?

We had a lease with a landlord that stated if the rent was paid by the 5th it was considered on time, and, if not, he would charge us $50 a month. I wrote letters to him enclosing all checks. He refused to give us a receipt. He cashed the checks 2-3 weeks after they were written. When we requested our deposit back, he named charges for each month for late rent. He also treated each tenant differently. Some he did not require a lease or a deposit for a pet while he demanded a deposit for a pet and a lease from others. He recently cashed a check, for part of one month’s rent, 5 months after it was written. Do we have any recourse?

Asked on October 21, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Vermont

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You could sue him to recover any improper fees, such as in small claims court. You'd have to prove, such as by sufficient, credible testimony, that the rent was sent to the landlord on time and that he delayed cashing it. In the future, you may wish to see if there is some way to send the rent (e.g. an electronic transfer, or certified mail) that will let you prove date of receipt.


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