What are the laws as to the amount a landlord can charge for late fee?

Can they charge $50 on the 5th and $15 a day until they pay?

Asked on September 3, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard and fast rule for how much late fees may be, but the $15/day is almost certainly illegal in your state for a residential lease, because cases in your state allow late fees that are designed to compensate the landlord for the legitimate costs of late payment e.g management time to administrate and collect loss of use of money and possible impact on finances etc. but does not allow punitive fees. $15 per day exceeds any reasonable cost from late payment for residential tenancies. 
The base $50 fee would likely be legal so long as it is not an unconscionably high percentage of your base rent. As a rough rule of thumb, is the monthly rent is $500 or more, the $50 fee is likely supportable.
If this is a commercial tenancy e.g. a store or office the rules are different because commercial tenancies are between commercial and presumably sophisticated entities and do not implicate policy concerns about housing and fairness, courts generally allow any fees including per day fees negotiated between the parties.

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