Attorneys Clause in Leases

gavel-568417_1280-PDMost residential leases have a clause in them that say the tenant is responsible for all “Attorney Fees”.  This was very common until the Minnesota Tenant’s Bill of Rights passed last year, in 2010. 

Based on that law, if you have that clause in your lease, the tenant now automatically also gets that right.  If tenants can be forced to pay Attorney’s Fees if they lose a court case and your lease contains that language; now, if the tenant wins, they can force the landlord to pay the attorney’s fees also.  You will be required to pay the tenants attorney fees, even if it was a pro-bono attorney.  It is only pro-bono to them, not you.

If you have low-income tenants, you will always have to pay, they never will.  If they already have a low credit score, they are not concerned about another judgment.

If you win, you win attorney fees from the Tenant.  The odds of you even being able to collect lost rent and damages is slim, the odds of getting the additional money for attorney fees is even slimmer.  The tenants however, WILL be able to collect from you.  You have a deeper pocket.  You could do yourself a favor by eliminating the attorney fees clause from your leases or specifying a cap on the amount of attorney fees.

Be sure to look at my “Coming Attractions” page and see what I have in store for upcoming articles.

Do you require the tenant to pay legal fees ion your lease?  Have you ever been awarded legal fees, or had to pay them for someone else?

4 Replies to “Attorneys Clause in Leases”

    1. Thank you for the comment!

      There is a lot to learn, but nothing that a tenant will not be glad to teach you… If you only have a unit or two, you can get lucky. When you have 24 like I do, and they are multi-family units, which are higher turnover, you need to learn fast. You will not stay lucky for too long.

    1. Most people want to get paid for their attorney expense, and I do too, but trying to get someone to pay for your attorney when they are not paying rent, is going to be VERY difficult. You are better off just limiting your damages, and that will probably prevent a lawsuit as well.

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