Q: This is my first time renting out my residential unit. The late fee provision in my lease allows me to charge a percentage of the rent or a flat fee. How much can I charge for the late fee?
A: Your late fee should be no more than 6% of the monthly rent. For example, if your tenant pays $1,250 in rent per month, then you may charge up to 6% of $1,250 as a late fee, which is $75. Your lease also gives you the option to write in a flat fee, however, the late fee will usually be considered excessive if it is over 6% of the monthly rent.
Q: I have a tenant who pays the rent late but refuses to pay the late fees. Can I give them a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit for the late fee?
A: No, you cannot include late fees on a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. If the late fee is a covenant in your Lease or Rental Agreement, then you may give the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit to pay the late fees. If the tenant does not pay after the 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit, then you may start an eviction based on this notice. You also have the option of taking the tenant to small claims court to be awarded the late fees.
Q: My tenant paid half of the security deposit before moving and was supposed to pay the other half last month. I still have not received the full security deposit. What can I do?
A: If the security deposit is a covenant in your Lease or Rental Agreement, then you may give the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit to pay the remainder of the deposit. You may also consider giving the tenant a 30 Day Notice to Quit if they are in a month-to-month tenancy to terminate the tenancy. It is in the landlord’s best interest to collect the full security deposit before giving a new tenant possession of the property.
Q: I am a landlord and my tenant wants to get a dog. I told them it was okay if they pay me a deposit in case the dog damages the property. Can I make the pet deposit non-refundable and can I charge more than two months, rent?
A: No, a deposit must be refundable. For an unfurnished unit, you may request an additional security deposit up to twice the monthly rent. Do not separate the security deposit and the pet deposit. A security deposit can be used towards any damages and cleaning costs. However, a pet deposit may only be used toward damages and cleaning caused by a pet. It may be difficult to identify the difference between the damages from a pet and puts you at greater risk to be sued for wrongfully deducting from the security deposit or pet deposit.
Q: Can I charge my tenant a pet deposit or an extra high deposit if they have an emotion support animal?
A: No. Emotional support animals are not considered pets, so you cannot charge the tenant the same fees you would charge a tenant with a pet. Further, a request for accommodation of emotional support animals may not be unreasonably denied or conditioned on payment of a fee, deposit, or other terms and conditions applied to applicants.
Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center, has been doing evictions for over 20 years. He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email [email protected].