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This month my landlord billed me a total of $10.66 for combined water/sewer, recycling, pest control and compactor disposal.(Not bad) However, they tacked on a 15 dollar "billing admin fee". This admin fee was not disclosed in rental quote paperwork or by word of mouth during the sales pitch.

Unfortunately, after close inspection of my lease I found this clause buried among the walls of text.

Additionally, to the extent allowed by applicable law, Resident shall pay Owner’s standard Non-Refundable Billing Administrative Fee of $15.00 (if no amount is identified, the Non-Refundable Billing Administrative Fee shall be $15.00) assessed on the first bill to Resident charging Resident for services not included in the Rent (such as cable service, long distance telephone service, Owner’s standard trash fee and recycling fee and other services).

So my question is what is the "extent applicable by law" with regards to billing admin fees? Can it really be legal to be charged an admin fee that is almost 150% of the actual billed services?

I tried to find information in the Texas property code and the only thing i could find was this.

Sec. 93.012. ASSESSMENT OF CHARGES. (a) A landlord may not assess a charge, excluding a charge for rent or physical damage to the leased premises, to a tenant unless the amount of the charge or the method by which the charge is to be computed is stated in the lease, an exhibit or attachment that is part of the lease, or an amendment to the lease. (b) This section does not affect a landlord's right to assess a charge or obtain a remedy allowed under a statute or common law. (c) This section does not affect the contractual right of a landlord that is a governmental entity created under Subchapter D, Chapter 22, Transportation Code, whose constituent municipalities are populous home-rule municipalities to assess charges under a lease to fully compensate the governmental entity for the governmental entity's operating costs.

Which would point me towards the charge being legal. However I am surprised I could not find any information regulating the amount of billing fees or price gouging.

  • And before you say the obvious, I know I should have read the lease more carefully before signing. – alan7678 Mar 1 '16 at 4:41
  • Don't you mean that your landlord charged you that fee? From the rest of the question, it seems that you are the tenant. – phoog Mar 1 '16 at 4:47
  • yes, my mistake – alan7678 Mar 1 '16 at 4:48
  • The good news, at least, is that it appears they can only charge the $15 once, though maybe that would be too good to be true. – phoog Mar 1 '16 at 4:50
  • There is some information about the charge reoccurring throughout length of lease I left out for brevity. In the end I would have accepted a 15 dollar fee if i had known about it before hand anyways(I would look at it as an increase in rent and it still would have been the better deal for the surrounding apartments). I just feel like they snuck one in on me and probably a bunch of other tenants as well. – alan7678 Mar 1 '16 at 5:18

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