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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26183
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I have a mess on my hands. March 2010 I went into an agreement

Resolved Question:

I have a mess on my hands. March 2010 I went into an agreement to buy a house from an individual in Texas, the owner. I paid 9,500 down, and when given a contract that had my name spelled wrong and wrong address, I gave it back for revision. I kept asking for it back, and then the man and his wife showed up on my door. The owner and his wife (hat in hand) asked to discuss something with me. The man and his wife began crying and stating that he was being sued by another person he sold a house to because he wasn't legally supposed to sell houses the way he had been. He begged me to keep my mouth shut, and to lie if I was asked by anyone if I was buying the house from him. He said he was going to draw up some lease with option to purchase and asked me to sign it. He stated that we would still have our original agreement and that the contract would be just for show. He said I was still responsible for paying taxes on the house as well. He had a clause in the lease agreement which stated I had to pay $10.00 per day if I was late with my payment. My mother passed away this past year and I got behind on my bills. Beginning this past January I have been paying an average of $300 dollars, sometimes as much as $500.00 in late fees every month to this man in addition to $600.00 per month house payment and $70.00 per month house insurance which is in his name. I couldn't pay the taxes this year because of the late fees he has been charging me I am about to lose everything. I am a full-time nursing student raising 5 children and I can't do this anymore. I don't know what to do?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.

JD 1992 :


Hello, and thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am an expert here and I look forward to assisting you today.


JD 1992 :

I need you to be a little more specific in your question(s) if you could. When we answer general ones we have to give general answers and, invariably, the customer responds with "I already knew that". This type of forum works better if you ask specific questions so we know exactly what you are looking for.

Customer:

This man is threatening to evict me because I am late with what he is now calling "rent". He lost the law suit to the other man in question by the way. My question I guess is can he continue charging me these outrageous late fees and get by with it? Can he evict me and then I end up losing all the money I have paid including my $9,500 down payment and taxes I have paid on the house?

Customer:

What legal recourse do I actually have?

Customer:

Is there a maximum he can charge me for late fees when I am supposedly buying the house from him?

Customer:

Ok sorry, I thought you had left me.

JD 1992 :

Why did you issue a bad service rating?

Customer:

I thought that was the only answer I would receive.

JD 1992 :

You can override that by issuing a positive rating later.

JD 1992 :

I still have a couple of questions.

Customer:

Ok, I will do that no problem.

Customer:

Ok

JD 1992 :

DO you have the original contract?

Customer:

No, unfortunately I trusted that man.

Customer:

But I do have proof of $7,500 that I paid down as well as proof I paid taxes for two years

JD 1992 :

You have a couple of problems. The main one is that you can't have a contract to buy land that is not in writing.

Customer:

I also made sure to put on every check that this was ??month's house payment. And later as he began charging me huge late fees I added that to check memo

JD 1992 :

The part about the late fees was in writing though?

Customer:

yes

JD 1992 :

What you are probably going to have to do is sue him for the down payment and the taxes you paid.

Customer:

But isn't there some kind of law that says what is too much

JD 1992 :

There is a law stating that an interest rate can't be above a certain percent. It is known as usury. However, the same thing doesn't apply to late fees.

Customer:

late fees

JD 1992 :

Let me check something real quick. Wait here in char.

JD 1992 :

chat

Customer:

ok

JD 1992 :

The Texas Legislature has placed a limit on late fees but it is not specific: a landlord can only charge a late fee so long as it is a "reasonable estimate of uncertain damages to the landlord that are incapable of precise calculation that result from late payment of rent". Section 92.019, Property Code.

JD 1992 :

So there is a limit, but it isn't a specific number.

Customer:

Do you think 300 to 500 is unreasonable

Customer:

per month

Customer:

And even though I don't have a contract I kind of have proof I was buying the house don't I?

JD 1992 :

I think that is unreasonable and I think a court would as well.

JD 1992 :

It would be very, very hard for him to use that statutory language to show that was a reasonable amount.

JD 1992 :

As to buying the house, you have proof that you were trying to but you can't enforce that so you would have to sue to get him to pay you back that amount plus the taxes, etc.

Customer:

My house payment is 3 weeks late because I had to pay him so much last month, and he is demanding the house payment with the late fees or he is going to evict me. I have 5 children, and I'm in nursing school. I am so scared and don't know what to do.

JD 1992 :

The lease that has the late fee in it, does it have any language in it about buying the house?

Customer:

It states that at the end of each lease period that I have the option to buy the house for a set amount, but he hasn't renewed that lease since it began. I think the amount was $54,000.00.

Customer:

He was supposed to change the buy amount each time.

JD 1992 :

Is the lease period defined? Also, does it address the amount that you have paid anywhere?

Customer:

The lease period was defined and as I stated he hasn't renewed it. I think it was supposed to be renewed in writing March 2012. No, it doesn't state how much I paid.

Customer:

I paid the down payment by a cashier's check for $5000.00, a personal check for $2,500.00, and gave him $2000.00 cash which he never gave me a receipt for.

JD 1992 :

You are going to have to hire a local lawyer to get involved. I think you have a good argument that you can't really be evicted, you have to be foreclosed on and also that he exceeded the late fees he was allowed to charge.

Customer:

I paid the taxes by personal check directly to the tax assessor's office.

JD 1992 :

The problem is that it is going to be complicated legal argument

JD 1992 :

because you really don't have a sales contract.

JD 1992 :

But there is an option to buy clause, you have made steps to buy, and he has also violated the law.

Customer:

Should I continue paying my house payment minus the late fees until I can find an attorney?

JD 1992 :

Yes, you should, but look for a lawyer ASAP. Most of the local ones will work with you on something like this.

Customer:

What type of lawyer should I look for, and do they require money up front?

JD 1992 :

Some will require up front, some will require part up front and some later, etc.

JD 1992 :

However, I think they can probably back this guy off without having to sue and probably get something worked out where you come out ahead.

JD 1992 :

The landlord faces some penalties for overcharging you.

JD 1992 :

But you are in better shape than most people would be.

Customer:

Thank you so much for your help. I considered not paying him any more money and then telling the judge what was going on. At this point I really would like to get my down payment, the taxes I have paid and the outrageous fees he's been charging me back. Then just find some other place to live.

JD 1992 :

You may very well be able to do that plus your attorney's fees.

JD 1992 :

He is obviously doing things underhanded.

Customer:

I am a 53 year old grandmother raising 5 grandchildren and trying to better our lives, but this jerk has soaked me to where I am about to have my utilities cut off and have to quit nursing school.

Customer:

How do I override my rating and change it to Excellent?

JD 1992 :

You should still have smiley faces or something like that in the same place you rated before.

Customer:

Ok, I see them. Again thank you,

JD 1992 :

You're very welcome.

Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 26183
Experience: Began practicing law in 1992
Dwayne B. and 9 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you very much for the Positive Rating. Please come back and visit us if you have any new questions and feel free to ask for me by placing “FOR JD 1992” in the subject line or as the first words of your question and I will pick up as soon as I see it.

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