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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default $600 Legal Fee and $50 Late Fee for 10 Day Late Rent Payment

    We have just tried paying rent 10 days late for our Los Angeles, CA apartment between sunset&vine, and have just been told that our account has been sent to the eviction's legal department, and in order to stop it, we have to pay $600 legal fees, plus a $50 late fee.

    The manager has informed us that she sent us a 3-day notice, but we haven't received anything.

    They won't accept our rent payment, plus the late fee, unless we pay the $600 legal fee too.

    I've never heard of anything as much as $600 penalty for paying late... I'm thinking this "legal fee" is just another way for the apartment complex to charge whatever they want as a late fee.

    Any advice?

    (btw, the contract only states that there is a $50 late fee after the 4th day--rent is due on 1st)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: $600 Legal Fee and $50 Late Fee for 10 Day Late Rent Payment

    Quote Quoting duntuk
    View Post
    We have just tried paying rent 10 days late for our Los Angeles, CA apartment between sunset&vine, and have just been told that our account has been sent to the eviction's legal department, and in order to stop it, we have to pay $600 legal fees, plus a $50 late fee.

    The manager has informed us that she sent us a 3-day notice, but we haven't received anything.

    They won't accept our rent payment, plus the late fee, unless we pay the $600 legal fee too.

    I've never heard of anything as much as $600 penalty for paying late... I'm thinking this "legal fee" is just another way for the apartment complex to charge whatever they want as a late fee.

    Any advice?

    (btw, the contract only states that there is a $50 late fee after the 4th day--rent is due on 1st)

    To get you past the current situation, pay the $600 fee and then sue the landlord in small claims for its return, as based on what you said, you would most likely prevail. The $600 legal fee looks like a disguised late fee.

    Alternatively, if you get yourself an attorney, you can have the rent escrowed by the attorney as you sue the landlord.

    Talking about legal fees, I am a landlord, and a fee in the $600.00 range where I am includes one court appearance by an attorney, and based on what you said, just serving a 3 day notice does not warrant that kind of fee.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    28,906

    Default Re: $600 Legal Fee and $50 Late Fee for 10 Day Late Rent Payment

    It may also run afoul of applicable rent control ordinances.

    From what I can find, to collect an attorney fee after court the landlord is supposed to include a provision in the lease allowing for recover of attorney fees, and fees may be limited by a local fee schedule. I am skeptical that a landlord is able to demand a lawyer fee iin advance of going to court that he apparently could not recover if he went through court and obtained a judgment.

    Consider giving a call to legal aid for a perspective on the issue.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: $600 Legal Fee and $50 Late Fee for 10 Day Late Rent Payment

    Just to add to what Aaron said, I've seen court cases on TV where the landlord tried to collect late fees, plus assorted junk fees on top. In this case. the OP is paying $650 just for being 10 days late. The legal fee here appears to be just a made up fee, as I doubt the landlord even paid anything yet.

    I recall in one of the TV cases, the judge found the landlord in violation of the state's usuory laws, and consequently even invalidated the basic late fee, since violators are not entitled to ANY payments if found in violation.

    I could see many different grounds here where the OP would not have to pay the fee, and having it invalidated. Op's current problem is to stop any eviction action going forward as the landlord is refusing to accept his rent, so having an attorney escrowing rent payments would quickly halt the process.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: $600 Legal Fee and $50 Late Fee for 10 Day Late Rent Payment

    Thank you everyone for the help.

    I'd like to add, last night I went to check the mail bin (wrong mail, junk mail, etc) at our mailboxes and found a letter with the wrong apartment on it, but under my name--that's why it was probably never delivered (the post mark date is completely illegible). The letter only included a notice that rent is due, in addition to water/garbage utility fee, and a late fee. There was no 3 Day Notice.

    So what I did, was made a photocopy of the envelope with wrong address and the NON-3-day-notice letter, and written a formal letter, demanding that the legal fees be removed. I sent this to the corporate office and the local apt office--everything in certified mail, just now.

    So I guess I'll just wait a couple of days for the mail to get delivered to see what happens. We were told we have till Friday Nov 19 2010 to come up with the fee or they go through with the eviction.

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