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How Much Should You Fine Renters for Lease Violations

Panhandle Renter Looking at a Lease Violation NoticeAs a Panhandle rental property owner, setting clear expectations for your renter is significant. Part of doing so is guaranteeing specific consequences for violating specific terms in your lease. One method to encourage renters to support their lease agreement is to issue fines for violations. Yet, are such fines or penalties legal? What’s more, how much should the fines be? Are there limits on the sum you can fine a renter? Let’s gain more insight into these and related matters.

Are fines or penalties legal?

Generally speaking, yes. However, fines and penalties must be specifically detailed in your lease agreement before you can charge them. If it’s not in the lease, you cannot charge extra fees. As long as your lease agreement contains language specifying the penalties and the violations they apply to, you are within your rights to issue fines.

How much should a fine or penalty be?

When establishing reasonable fine amounts, consider the severity of the violation and the impact it has on you as the Panhandle property manager. It’s significant to keep in mind that fines should not be excessive or unreasonably punitive. If the penalty you demand is more than the incurred damages, it will most likely be ruled unenforceable, and you probably won’t win your case in court.

Another factor to take into account is your ability to collect the charges from your renter. Fining a renter should only be used as a last resort because of the high risk of permanently breaking any positive relations you may have with them. If you feel you have no other choice, then setting reasonable fine amounts will increase the probability of actually gathering it. Renters are much more likely to not pay excessive fines or to sue you to avoid paying them. It’s imperative to weigh the potential benefit of collecting a fine against the consequences, such as losing a renter or becoming engaged in a legal dispute.

Are there limits on the amount you can charge?

It’s necessary to keep in mind that some states do have limits on how much can be charged for certain violations. For example, states like Delaware, Nevada, and Washington, D.C. limit late rent payment fees to 5% of the monthly rent amount. Other states have regulations that state the late fee must be “reasonable” and that it must be specifically listed in the lease.

Some states may have other limitations relating to fines for lease violations. Consequently, checking state and local laws before setting fine amounts in your lease agreement is vital. It is also an excellent idea to consult a lawyer or local rental market expert before setting fine amounts in your lease agreement.

In conclusion, fines and penalties for lease violations can help encourage renters to support their agreements. Yet, it’s critical to guarantee that any fines or penalties you charge are legal, sensible, and in line with state and local laws.


Real Property Management High Plains has comprehensive experience with all things property management, including lease agreements and tenant relations. If you need feedback regarding a lease agreement or any other matter involving your rental property, contact us online to see what we can do for you.

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