Question: I have been in the rental house in AZ for more than 5 years. Now that I am leaving the landlord say's they are charging me late fee from past rent over the last five years. Can they do this even thoe they never said or mention rent was late and there was not late fee asked for. But in the lease it does say there is a late fee if rent is late but has never told me rent was ever late or ever ask for late fee's before me giving my notice to leave
Answer: The Landlord/Tenant Act permits a landlord to assess a "reasonable late fee set forth in a written rental agreement." A.R.S. § 33-1373. There are several issues that can be raised with the landlord or in court if necessary. The first issue would be whether the amount requested is "reasonable". Second, if the landlord did not assert their right to collect the late fee for five years they might be barred from collecting it by the legal doctrine of "laches". Under this doctrine the failure to assert one's rights within a reasonable time could result in the claim being barred. Finally, if the landlord continued to accept late payments and never asserted their rights to late fees or ever advised the tenant of assessment of the fees the landlord may have "waived" the right to collect the fee pursuant to A.R.S. § 33-1371 B.
October 04, 2009