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Is There a Maximum Late Fee in California?

Although California law doesn’t cap late fees at an exact dollar amount, they have to be reasonable—which generally means less than 10% of the monthly rent.

When it comes to late fees for rent, the laws in California aren't as cut and dry as they are in some other states. But your landlord can’t charge you whatever they want, either. Late fees have to be reasonable, which generally means that they’re based on any extra costs associated with your landlord receiving the money behind schedule—bank fees, for instance. If your landlord can’t prove that you paying rent late negatively impacted them in any way, then they’ll have a hard time justifying their fee in court. Judges in California often consider late fees up to 10% of the monthly rent to be reasonable.

But none of this matters if your lease doesn’t explicitly mention a late fee! Your landlord can only charge a fee for late rent if it’s spelled out in a written lease agreement signed by both of you. Otherwise, it’s illegal under California law.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.