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Is a verbal modification of late charges valid in court? Can late charges of $100.00 a day be taken out of my security deposit?

Laguna Beach, CA |

My lease expired end of Aug. Verbal agreement with owner to waive additional late fees for January partial payment if February's payment was on time, and Jan's balance was paid on 2/20. Now after I put in my 30 day's notice he is not honoring our conversation. This means he can take $2200 (20 days x 125) out of my $1450 security deposit? Also: after inspecting my lease I am reminded of the fact that it has been intentionally modified. The fees were added after the fact w/o my signature. My signature is also cut and pasted. The apartment manager was a nightmare and refused to acknowledge this fact. I gave up, but know regret it. Thanks so much!

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Attorney answers 2


An oral modification of a written lease agreement with respect to late charges would not be enforceable. Moreover a $100 per day late fee would not be enforceable in California. It constitutes an unreasonable penalty.

Security deposits are strictly governed by California Civil Code section 1950.5.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.



Thank you , I appreciate your information and time!


I agree with Mr. Chen's response as to late fees. With respect to the accounting, it is nearly impossible to make a determination of what is the proper accounting without ascertaining numerous facts from your situation, for example: the rent, the form of the 30 day notice, when the notice was given, terms of the lease, etc. Security deposit law relevant is CCP 1950.5 which governs the type of deductions that can be made.

This response is not intended, nor should it be construed as legal advice. Any information provided is for educational purposes only. The exchange of communications through and similar social media does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me or my office. To schedule an appointment for an attorney-client privileged consultation, contact me at 909-860-0342. Thank you.

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