Can my landlord evict me for late fees?
Authored By: Nassau Suffolk Law Services
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Your landlord cannot evict you for late fees alone
There are some circumstances when your landlord may not have a right to collect late fees or legal fees.
Check your lease to see if late fees are considered "additional rent" or "added rent."
When does my landlord NOT have a right to collect late or legal fees?
- If you never entered into a written lease, your landlord does not have a right to collect late fees, even if you orally agreed to pay late fees.
- If your written lease permits the landlord to collect late fees, but there is nothing in your lease that calls late fees “additional rent,” the landlord does not have a right to collect late fees.
When does my landlord have a right to collect late or legal fees?
Look to see if the lease says unpaid late fees are “added rent” or "additional rent."
If the lease considers unpaid late fees additional rent, your landlord could try to get you to pay them in a non-payment proceeding. However, your landlord cannot start a non-payment proceeding for late fees alone.
A non-payment proceeding is a court case where your landlord is suing you for unpaid rent. In a nonpayment proceeding, the landlord is asking the court to evict you if you do not pay.
You can still challenge the fees in court
No matter what the lease says, you can challenge your landlord’s right to claim excessive late fees in court. This will be for the court to determine.
Need more information?
Read these tips for tenants in non-payment proceedings from Nassau Suffolk Law Services.