Know Before You Rent

Can Landlords Fine Tenants?

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When rules are broken in communities, fines and penalties are imposed upon the rule breaker(s) based upon the laws established in the community. But when it comes to apartment complexes overseen by a landlord or management company, conventions vary on if landlords can fine tenants. Here are some general concepts on if landlords can fine tenants:

* Is it in the lease? The lease agreement is the overall contract between a landlord and tenant. If this agreement does not specify when and how much a landlord can fine a tenant due to a breach in the contract, then chances are the fine is not appropriate. However, a landlord may be able to evict tenants or withhold money from a security deposit repayment when the tenant moves out, depending on how serious the rule-breaking is.

* Was damage caused by the tenant? In cases where severe damage is caused by the tenant or a guest of the tenant to the property – damage that will need repairs – a landlord does have the ability to charge the tenant for the cost of the repairs. How this occurs can differ between scenarios, and a tenant in this situation may want to enlist legal advice on how to best proceed.

* Is the fine being passed down by the landlord for a community law violation? Examples of these fines can range from garbage not properly being disposed of, to grills being used illegally on decks. Many landlords will specify in the lease how these assessed fines will be passed on to the tenant. If it is not specified in the lease, a tenant may be able to seek legal counsel regarding not paying the fine.

If a tenant finds himself in a situation where a landlord is imposing a fine, it is recommended the tenant proceed cautiously and within all legal boundaries if he intends to argue against the fine. The fact is that any actions that could be considered a break of the lease agreement could result in a landlord taking steps for eviction, which will show up in the tenant’s rental history report under eviction records.

Want to check out what appears on your rental history report? Visit to learn more.