Ask a landlord-tenant lawyer and get answers ASAP
Hi! I'm Heather. I've been a practicing attorney for the last 15 years, and I'd be happy to assist you for informational and educational purposes.
Just a moment as I type my response.
Under CA law, and specifically under the case Orozco v. Casimiro 121 Cal.App.4th Supp. 7 (2004), the landlord cannot charge a late fee unless (1) the lease specifically allows the late fee, and (2) the late fee is approximately the reasonable amount of the landlord's damages caused by the late payment.
If your lease either doesn't provide for the late fee, or does not have a provision that states that you agree that the late fee is a reasonable estimate of the landlord's damages caused by the lateness of the payment, then you may be able to have the late fee invalidated under the Orozco case.
Has that helped?