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I recently ended my lease on 01/31. My landlord had charged us a lawyer fee for adding someone to the lease. He was giving us random amounts and when I asked for receipts, paperwork, and proof of transaction, he failed to give me any of those. On the day of 01/31, he proceed to charge us ( a different amount that was originally stated) and handed me a receipt that was dated 01/31. He deducted it from my security deposit without giving me a chance to review it. I feel like I am being taken advantage of.

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    Where is this? Landlord/tenant laws vary by country, by state or province, and often by locality, so the city or other locality may matter. Also, did your lease have any provision allowing for such fees? Note that while we can often help people learn what the law requires or permits, we cannot advise on what someone should do in a specific siutuation. – David Siegel Feb 3 at 17:32
  • What exactly is your specific legal question? – Ryan M Feb 3 at 18:55
  • Back when I was a student, I remember something similar, but the charge ($50 iirc) was actually specified in the lease and it wasn't a "lawyers' fee" but stated something along the lines of an administrative fee for making a new lease with the new tenants. Yeah, they were probably making money on that alone, but it was specified in the lease... (FWTW, $50 was also the "deductible" we had to pay for any repairs the landlord made at our request.) – Fizz Feb 3 at 19:10
  • Also, since the money is being deducted from your deposit, it sounds like you're leaving, otherwise you'd have to pay that fee on top of the rent. In general, people are more likely to "screw you" if they think they never have to do business with you again... – Fizz Feb 3 at 19:20
  • As an aside, in some European countries, to get the full protection of the law, the lease has to be notarized. (By this I mean that if it's not notarized, some clauses are overridden by the "standard" provisions in the law.) And the public notary fee can vary... so a landlord may not know it an advance, although I think this is a somewhat rare occurrence. And whether the tenant has to pay (some of) it... is again a different matter. – Fizz Feb 3 at 19:54
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Review the terms of the lease, and determine (a) what deductions can be made from the security deposit, and (b) what charges can be made for lease changes or tenant changes. If the amount and type of deduction for "lawyer fee" is included in either of those areas, then it sounds like the landlord did what the lease allowed. But if not, then the deduction could be improper. If you're in the U.S., you could see a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law; or there might be a "tenants' union" in your area, which is usually a nonprofit organization that provides information for tenants to exercise their rights.

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He deducted it from my security deposit without giving me a chance to review it. I feel like I am being taken advantage of.

Indeed you are, unless this issue in particular is explicitly provided in the terms of the lease. The reason why I use italics for "explicitly" is that the act of adding someone to a lease is not complex enough to warrant assistance by some lawyer. A landlord is not entitled to unreasonable expenses, especially if he failed to notify you beforehand so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

It is unclear whether you question the legitimacy of the receipt, but you are entitled to proof of the alleged expenses. It seems that you have a viable claim under multiple legal theories such as breach of contract and conversion.

You did not specify your jurisdiction and the amount in dispute. In some countries the tenant might be required to undergo an "alternative dispute resolution" (ADR) venue instead of court. The amount in dispute is also relevant for determining whether the matter would have to be litigated in Small Claims Court or the non-US equivalent. If the lease provides for ADR, then that takes priority regarding how to proceed.

Be sure that your subsequent interaction with the landlord be in writing, since that might make it easier for you to prove your claims.

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