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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 15744
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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I live in an apartment and a cat that I adopted because he

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I live in an apartment and a cat that I adopted because he was hopeless and needed a home. This was after we signed our lease and didn't bother to let them know about it (with the intent of paying the deposit if I was ever caught and I was). Forgive me for thinking it's stupid to pay this. I only let him outside when we are home and neighbors know this is my cat because I frequently play with him outside. So today we got a complaint on our door saying we need to pay the pet deposit, we called to investigate further to find someone complained of cat laying on their car. I knew this day was coming and I'm fine with paying it. However, the apartment is saying if there are more complaints of the cat relaxing on the car we will have to pay $100 dollars every time. I am very distrustful of my neighbors and I feel I have a right to be shown proof my cat is actually relaxing on their car. I also feel I have the right to know who complained about this so I can know if my cat (who I love like he was my own child) is taken by this neighbor to be euthanized to spite me or something of that nature. Is this too much to ask?

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Is the $100 fine (per complaint) in the written lease?

ScottyMacEsq :

Or what is their basis for this fine? And to whom is it paid?

Customer:

I'm not sure if it is written in the lease I am at work and don't have a copy. I can look through my emails real quick. I assume it is paid to the apartment company.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you. While your apartment complex could have a pet deposit and pet fee, and enforce that, the "fines" and "fees" that you incur by having the cat be on other cars is probably not enforceable, even if it is in the lease. The reason is that contracts are not allowed to have penalties. Contacts can have "liquidated damages" provisions that seek to reasonably estimate the damages ahead of time of something occuring, but the $100 per complaint is almost certainly an unenforceable penalty clause.

ScottyMacEsq :

An unenforceable penalty clause is just that: Unenforceable.

ScottyMacEsq :

That means that if they were to take you to court for the penalties, or to evict you for failing to pay those penalties, you could challenge them as punitive, rather than fees that are meant to reimburse for damages, etc...

ScottyMacEsq :

Particularly if the apartment is keeping them, rather than them being turned over to the complainer, that would almost certainly be determined to be punitive because the apartment actually hasn't suffered any loss.

ScottyMacEsq :

So in short, it's almost certainly not legally enforceable.

ScottyMacEsq :

That being said, failure to pay could put a "red mark" on your lease, and might make it so that they don't re-lease to you when the lease ends.

ScottyMacEsq :

That would be legal, because they're under no obligation to do so.

Customer:

We just renewed this July for another year she is sending me a copy right now and I can forward, or paste here for you to read if that is feasible. Is there anything I can do to find out who is actually making the complaints?

ScottyMacEsq :

Unless there's something in the lease itself that governs this, I don't need to see the lease.

Customer:

If they try to charge me for a complaint and no proof.

ScottyMacEsq :

You can certainly say that "I absolutely am not going to pay any penalty for something that there is no proof of" (and that leaves it open that you're not going to pay even if there is proof).

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

So that is my best bet is to say you have no proof and not pay for erroneous accusations?

ScottyMacEsq :

That's what I would do.

Customer:

Thank you.

ScottyMacEsq :

And you could also say (if the $100 is not in the lease) that they have no contractual right to the fee. If it is in there, you could say it's an unenforceable penalty.

ScottyMacEsq :

My pleasure.If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq :

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