Can attorney fee clause be used without specifying it is for prevailing party only?

I see it is common, but without saying it is only for prevailing party does it mean my Landlord can sue me for any reason, lose and get paid for all expenses?

Does it have an implicit meaning? Or is this a shady contract?

State California.

If any action of a lawsuit, demand, claim or enforcement of any provision within this Lease shall be brought by Landlord to recover any Rent under this Lease, or any breach of, or to enforce or interpret any of the covenants, terms or conditions of this Lease, or for the recovery of the possession of the Premises, Tenant shall pay: i) All costs, charges and expenses, including court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by Landlord in enforcing Tenant' s obligations under this Lease; ii) any associated costs by Landlord of enforcing its remedies in the event of a Default; iii) in any litigation, negotiation or transactions in which Tenant causes Landlord, to become involved or concerned. The Tenant shall reimburse Landlord of its actual costs, any damages, third-party costs and its attorneys` fees within thirty (30) days of receipt of an invoice for the same from the Landlord.


There is mostly no need for an "only for prevailing parties" term. Under i) we have

incurred by Landlord in enforcing Tenant's obligations under this Lease

If the Landlord loses the case, they weren't "enforcing the Tenant's obligations".

In ii) we have

of enforcing its remedies

If they lose, they weren't enforcing their remedies

In iii) we have

in which Tenant causes Landlord, to become involved or concerned

This is the weak point. If the Tenant sues the Landlord and wins, this clause purports to require the Tenant to pay the Landlord's costs. That looks very dodgy to me.

  • Hell, I was going to point to the first part of the clause as evidence that "If any action of the lawsuit..." I'd also point out that I doubt any judge would look at a contract that makes a "Heads I win, tails you lose" situation for on party of the suit with a serious eye, or would at least view it as deceptive and void the term in favor of the leasee.
    – hszmv
    Oct 23 '19 at 11:07
  • 1
    I don't see any judge requiring tenant who has won to pay attorney's fees. Much the opposite; I think courts see a one-sided contactual demand of "loser pays, but only in my direction" as absurd; a misprint that really means "loser pays in all directions". So the tenant should ask for fees if the landlord is. Oct 23 '19 at 18:26

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