Texas couple sues landlords for allegedly overcharging on late fees

By Shaun Zinck | Apr 27, 2015


A property management and leasing company is being sued over allegations it overcharged tenants for water usage.

Kacy and Christopher Dominguez filed the lawsuit on April 17 against Mid-America Apartments (MAA) alleging the company charged tenants late fees in excess of what Texas law permits.

Under Texas law, tenants are allowed 16 days to pay a water bill before being considered delinquent. A landlord can charge no more than 5 percent of the total bill that is late. Owners who use submeters to measure the exact water usage of its tenants can charge up to 9 percent of the costs related to the meter at each apartment unit.

The plaintiffs, a married couple living in one of MAA's apartment complexes in Travis County, Texas, alleged MAA charged them $135 in late fees for a $38 water bill. The lease they signed in 2013 stated a late fee of 5 percent would be added to an unpaid water bill if it wasn't paid 16 days after the due date.

In March, they allegedly were sent a “Notice to Vacate” for failing to pay the late fees. The notice stated late fees would accrue at $10 per day until paid in full, the lawsuit said. The plaintiffs paid the late fees, but still contested that MAA overcharged them.

The lawsuit seeks class status, and the plaintiffs believe damages will exceed $75,000. They are represented by Britton D. Monts, of The Monts Firm; Jason W. Snell, of The Snell Law Firm, PLLC; and Stacey V. Reese, of Stacey V. Reese Law PLLC. All the law firms are based in Austin, Texas.

United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division case number 1:5-cv-00293.

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