Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)/Retroactive Late Fees


Good afternoon,

My husband and I have been renting the same townhome for over 5 years.  We have only been late with the rent a handful of times, and have always let the realty company know ahead of time and paid the late fee involved.

Yesterday, I got a call that we owe over 300.00 in late fees from the first of the year through july.  They say we were late in January, February, May and July.  The rent is due on the 5th and we've always paid it on or before the 5th. We always put it in the drop box outside the office because we usually pay it after they close,  but its always by or on the 5th.  

I have no record of being late any of these months and the checks were cased between the 6th-8th in all four cases and are dated the 5th or earlier, by me.  The checks for all subsequent months have always been cashed between the 3-8th.  

No one informed me of any of these late fees, and I have conversed with them many times over various things needing to be replaced and updates that we asked for (most of which we didn't get)

I don't know what to do, Is it legal for them to suddenly charge me late fees?  They're showing me an itemized (hand written) statement and asking us to start paying towards the balance..... I'd probably pay 1/2 of it just in good faith to avoid problems an just make sure to get a receipt from now on....i always thought the canceled check would be the receipt but it seems that isn't the case.

Any advise would be helpful.  

On another note  (and I'm so sorry for rambling on an on)  Is it legal for me to try and contact the owner of the property and ask him if we can bypass the middle man?   The relater uses their own family members to install appliances etc. and pretty much always leaves us a mess and doesn't do a good job. (  had windows installed upside down a few years ago!!) I don't think the owner is aware of any of this.  They also made me pay for the electricity used to run an industrial sized machine to fix water damage over three days......

were good renters, keep the place clean and don't cause any problems.  I just feel like we are being treated badly and I don't know what to do!!

If it helps, I do not have a current lease. It ran out an we haven't signed a new one.

Hi Maria:

I suggest you become familiar with SC landlord/tenant law. Here's the link:

In general, you can always terminate a month-to-month rental agreement by giving the landlord proper notice (if you want to move).

If the rental agreement has a late fee provision, then the landlord can demand that you pay it. Cashing a check in and of itself does not excuse the late payment, nor does it waive the landlord's right to demand the late payment. It is always good to pay on time and be sure to get a receipt when you submit your payment.

The landlord is required to make necessary repairs to the property. Make sure you put the repair request in writing and serve it on the landlord appropriately.

Thanks for your question.

David Piotrowski
Attorney at Law

*No Attorney/Client Relationship and No Legal Advice -

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Real Estate Law (esp. Landlord-Tenant)

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David Piotrowski, Esq.


My landlord/tenant practice primarily assists California landlords with all aspects of the landlord/tenant relationship including leases, contract violations, non-payment of rent, and evictions. I can also advise, on a more general level, other real property issues.


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Juris Doctor (JD) and Member of the State Bar. Attorney.

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