May a landlord withhold late fees from a security deposit after verbally stating that no fees would be assessed?

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May a landlord withhold late fees from a security deposit after verbally stating that no fees would be assessed?

I am at the term of a residential lease. During the course of almost 2 years I had several late rent payments. I communicated with my landlord and explained this was due to how I was paid by my employer. The landlord said it was fine and no late fees would be assessed. I did offer to pay late fees and was told it was not necessary. The landlord is now withholding these fees ($50 per late occurrence) from the return of my security deposit. Do I have any recourse if I was never informed or given any written notice of these fees being assessed during the lease period?

Asked on March 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are certain issues that come up in your question, ore than I think that you may realize.  The first red flag comes at the end of the question.  What do you mean that you were not given any written notice?  Is there a paragraph in your lease that refers to late fees? If there is then you are bound by what it says.  Now, a lease can not be altered orally, meaning that your landlord's statements to you do not have to pay the fees is as good as the paper it is written on.  So no written notice is then necessary. Next, the $50 seems a bit excessive.  Check out the law on that.  An internet search may get you that info.  Finally, generally speaking security deposits can not be held for past due rent but only for damage to apartments (check that out though because some states do allow a hold back of security for rent).  Good luck.  


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