If the tenants who live in my house owe me over $3400 in back rent and late penalties, can I charge them interest?

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If the tenants who live in my house owe me over $3400 in back rent and late penalties, can I charge them interest?

Can I legally charge them the same 12%-18% that a bank would charge for a personal loan?

Asked on April 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You could only charge them interest (or late fees) if there was a written lease allowing you to do so. You cannot unilaterally add this term after the fact--it must be something which the tenants agreed to at the time they agreed to rent the premises from you.

It is also doubtful that you could charge that much in any event--most likely, you be held to an amount reflecting the cost to you, such as amount commensurate with interest rate on any mortgages or loans on the property.


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