How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask LawTalk Your Own Question
LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 35311
Experience:  I have handled Real Estate and Landlord Tenant matters for more than two decades.
15277592
Type Your Landlord-Tenant Question Here...
LawTalk is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My son is renting a house with 5 other boys who are in

Customer Question

Hi my son is renting a house with 5 other boys who are in college. Because he sent in a check from the wrong checking account(closed account) the landlord is telling him he owes $270.00. The lease states the following:
If a check is returned for whatever reason the lessee shall pay $30.00 administrative costs. IF the lessee is late after two days a late charge of 6% of the rent will be charged for extra bookkeeping expenses. The total rent is $4500.00 so they are asking $270.00. We cannot afford this and want to fight it. Can you please advise me?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

.

Can you tell me what state this is in?

.

.

thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
California
Expert:  barristerinky replied 3 months ago.

Ok, in CA, a late fee will only be enforced if the fee is a "reasonable estimate of the amount that the lateness will cost the landlord" . Orozco v. Casimiro 121 Cal.App.4th Supp. 7 (2004)

.

So if the fee is too large, it looks like a penalty and the court won't enforce it..

.

The problem here is that if it isn't paid, then the landlord might decide to try and evict and force everyone to go to court and defend claiming that the 6% was unreasonable and more of a penalty than an actual cost that the landlord incurred for the late payment.

.

I agree that it is too high and appears to be a penalty and think a judge would too. But you have to determine whether it is worth going to court over if the landlord won't back down and reduce it this one time.

.

As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

.

.

thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Expert:  LawTalk replied 3 months ago.

Good afternoon Dale,

You have asked for a new professional to answer your question.

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I have been a CA licensed attorney or more than 3 decades.

This seems like a very crucial matter for you, and your questions and issues suggest that an in-depth conversation might best suit your needs. If you are interested, for a very nominal charge I can offer you a personal phone conference during which there is no limitation on the number of questions you can ask of me, as opposed to continuing in this question and answer thread which is searchable and viewable by the public.

Let me know if you don't want a call and I will be happy continue here with an answer for you.

Either way, whether I call you or not, in order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. Does the landlord have individual lease agreements with the 5 tenants, or is there just one lease signed by all of them?

2. How long was the landlord without the proper partial rent amount?

3. Do you know whether the landlord has bookkeeping done by an employee or whether there is a bookkeeping company hired to do the books?

Doug

Related Landlord-Tenant Questions