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Is there a limit to how much a landlord can charge a tenant in late fees if they are late with their rent in NY?

Buffalo, NY |

my lease indicates that there will be a $5 per day late charge added on to the monthly rent of $450 per month if rent is not paid by the 3rd of the month. If rent is not paid until the 18th can a landlord really charge a $65 late charge (NYS) or is there a limit?

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

Dear is there a limit to late charges?

New York law does not intrude into private landlord and tenant agreements, except where concerns involving public policy lead to law making affecting all residential rental agreements (such as the Warranty of Habitability, the right to sublease and or assign, the right to have roommates, etc.) and where the entire landlord and tenant relation is made subject to a rent regulation law (rent control, emergency tenant protection act, etc.)

New York courts will not enforce unconscionable clauses in leases. If you are sued, for "late fees" only, you will need to prove to the court that the late fee in your lease is embodied within an unconscionable clause. Since the penalty is greater than the legal interest rate and may be in violation of the usury law (greater than 16% interest).

The idea behind the late fee as you understood this when you signed the lease was to make certain that the rent was paid on time.

The $65 late charge is far less than you would pay an attorney to defend the case, and as likely not worth it to your landlord to sue you.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

Posted

I have not seen your lease, so I can't give you a definitive answer. Check your lease to see if late charges are defined as additional rent. If those charges are not defined as additional rent, a judge is unlikely to award those late charges to the landlord.

If your landlord commences a summary eviction proceeding, consider hiring an attorney.

This communication is intended only to provide general information. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.