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How Much Should You Fine Renters for Lease Violations

Decatur Renter Looking at a Lease Violation NoticeAs a Decatur rental property owner, having understandable and clear expectations for your renter is imperative. Part of doing so is determining certain consequences for violating some terms in your lease. One practice to encourage renters to faithfully keep their lease agreement is to issue fines for violations. But on the flip side, are such fines or penalties legal? And how much should the fines be? Are there limits on the amount you can fine a renter? Let’s look a little closer at these and correlated questions.

Are fines or penalties legal?

Generally speaking, yes. But take note, fines, and penalties need to 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 includes 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 getting the proper fine amounts, take into consideration the severity of the violation and the impact it has on you as the Decatur property manager. It’s critical to know that fines should not be excessive or harshly punishing. If the penalty you charge is over and above the incurred damages, odds are that it will be deemed unenforceable, and you quite possibly won’t win your case in court.

Another point to consider is your ability to collect the charges from your renter. Fining a renter should only be used as a last resort given that it carries such a major risk of permanently destroying any established good relations you may have with them. If you believe you have no other choice, then setting reasonable fine amounts will increase your possibility of seriously collecting it. Renters are far more likely to refuse to pay excessive fines or to sue you to avoid paying them. It’s necessary to weigh the potential benefit of collecting a fine against the consequences, for instance losing a renter or facing a legal dispute.

Are there limits on the amount you can charge?

It’s significant to also be aware 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 detailed and included in the lease.

All different states may have other limitations relating to fines for lease violations. That’s exactly why it’s critical to ascertain state and local laws just before setting fine amounts in your lease agreement. It is moreover great thinking to consult a lawyer or local rental market expert just before setting fine amounts in your lease agreement.


In conclusion, fines and penalties for lease violations can be serviceable for encouraging renters to keep abiding by their agreements. Hence, it’s significant to make certain that any fines or penalties you charge are legal, realistic, and in line with state and local laws.


Real Property Management Endeavor has competent and prolific experience with all things property management, including lease agreements and tenant relations. If you need an expert opinion 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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