Rare is the tenant who’s never had a problem paying rent on time or in full. If you are a conscientious and honest tenant who is temporarily short on funds, most landlords won’t evict you for paying rent a little late one month. To avoid problems, follow this advice.
You’re more likely to be successful (and avoid an eviction lawsuit) by being up front with your landlord about your situation, and asking for an extension. A landlord who considers you a good tenant won’t want to lose you, since it’s often difficult and expensive to evict you, then find and move in good tenants. This means you can probably get the landlord to accept a portion of the rent now—maybe even a small portion—and the rest later. Here are some basic steps to take:
If you can’t pay the rent on time, you may be tempted to hope the landlord won’t notice—after all, she’s got many tenants to keep track of, and one late check will hardly be noticed, right? Wrong. Remember, it’s likely that your landlord is counting on your timely check to cover her own mortgage payment. Because the bank won’t forgive her tardiness, she can’t afford to ignore yours. And it’s equally naive to think that you can ignore the landlord’s phone calls or emails or think that she will swallow ridiculously lame excuses.
Nothing infuriates a landlord more than dealing with a sneaky tenant who consistently bounces rent checks. Stirring up your landlord’s ire isn’t the only consequence of a bad check: Keep in mind that sending a worthless check (or one that’s not signed) is like sending no rent at all. If your landlord has a late fee policy, it will kick in regardless of your bounced check; and, if the landlord chooses, he can also terminate your tenancy.
Like any other business, your landlord has the legal right to charge you if your rent check bounces. The charge must be reasonable—such as the amount the bank charges for a returned check, probably $10 to $20 per returned item, plus a few dollars for the landlord’s trouble.
Your landlord should tell you in advance—in the lease or rental agreement, orally, or by means of an obvious sign in the rental office where you bring your monthly check—that a bounced check fee will be imposed.
A landlord who considers you a good tenant won’t want to lose you, since it’s often difficult and expensive to evict you, then find and move in good tenants. This means you can probably get the landlord to accept a portion of the rent now—maybe even a small portion—and the rest later. Here are some basic steps to take: