Can a landlord change the late fees without providing advance notice and/or without updating that information in one’s lease?

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Can a landlord change the late fees without providing advance notice and/or without updating that information in one’s lease?

My lease says that we are required to pay 10% of the monthly rent. I have paid only 10% of monthly rent once before. Now however when I went to pay my rent (late due to the way I got paid), I am told that late fee is 10% of market rent. Can a landlord change the late fee without notifying tenants in advance and/or without updating my lease to reflect new policy? The rental office states that my concession rent is not my actual rent. If I was given discounted rent that I pay every month, then how is it they can say the market rent is my rent?

Asked on August 25, 2011 Alabama

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are wise to have carefully read your lease with your landlord in its terms and conditions control the obligations you owe the landlord and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law. If your written lease specifically states that the late penalty fee is ten percent (10%) of the monthly rent, the late fee is ten percent (10%) of the monthly rent, not ten percent (10%) of market rent.

Your landlord cannot shuffle the deck and change the rules concerning the late fees to be assessed against you and other tenants without a written agreement signed by you and the other tenants.

If your rent is being subsidized by the housing authority, you need to contact the person assigned your file to discuss what your landlord is trying to do.

Good luck.


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