can my landlord charge me 300 in late fees each month?

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can my landlord charge me 300 in late fees each month?

I have late fees stemming from the beginning of the lease when we did not pay
everything up front but I thought I had made arrangements at the LLs office.
Apparently he did not agree to the agreement I made with the office. Now he says
i owe almost 14000 in late fees and he wont back down. He even made me sign a
paper that says I will do work for him at his other rental properties to get a
3500 a month credit to put toward the late fees……Yes I signed it but am
wondering if he can do that ….I have a feeling I am being taken advantage of.

Asked on July 19, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease, your late fees are whatever the lease says they are: a lease is a contract, after all, so if you signed a lease contractually obligating yourself to late fees, you have to pay them. $300/month late fees are high, but if you agreed to them, are very likely legal. 
(Note: if you are in subsidized housing, like housing paid for by Section 8, there are limitations on late fees; same thing if you are in rent-controlled housing.)
On the other hand, if the fees are NOT in your lease, he can't charge you them--the lease is a contract, and he can only get the fees and amounts stated in that contract.
The above said, by signing that paper, you may have now contractually obligated yourself to the fees. Given how much is at stake, you should bring the lease, the paper you signed, and anything else in writing about rent and late fees to an attorney to review with you.


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