Landlord Is Not Cashing Your Check? (Here's What You Can Do)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

You try to pay your rent every month, right on time. One month, though, didn’t quite make much sense. You dropped off the check at your landlord’s mailbox, but the check never got cashed. You waited and waited. It’s been three days without a check cashed. What gives?

Landlords have the right to delay cashing your check, so you should keep your money in the bank. However, it could be an attempt to try to evict you. It’s best to ask your landlord what happened with the check, just to make sure nothing has happened to the check.

This is an issue that needs to be handled delicately if you want a positive outcome. Let’s talk about the best way to handle this with tact.

Before We Begin: Please Call A Lawyer If You’re Really Worried

Yes, you’re going to see me browbeat you about this throughout the article. Being accused of missing rent when you didn’t is a serious problem that can destroy your credit and life. If your landlord is not cashing checks but has received them, you need to talk to a legal professional.

State and city laws vary from place to place. While we offer general advice, you need to have more specific information regarding this issue if you want to get out on top. Lawyers are awesome for this.

Can A Landlord Delay Cashing Your Rent Check?

Banks will honor a check for as long as six months after it has been written, so it’s not like those checks are bad. In most states, landlords have the right to cash the check whenever they want. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always bode well for renters.

We all have different bills to pay, and they hit at different times. This can lead to a dip in the bank account balance. A check that’s cashed too late could end up dipping below the bank’s minimum balance. This, in turn, could make the check bounce.

Why Would A Landlord Delay Cashing Your Check?

In most cases, your landlord didn’t mean to do this. They could have been late to the bank, or the check may have gotten lost in the mail. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of being too busy. However, there is a more insidious reason why a landlord would do this.

Some unscrupulous landlords will “lose” the checks you pay to them, never cashing them in. Then, they use the lack of payment as a reason to evict you. Or, they cash them all at the same time, effectively forcing the checks to bounce. This often happens with slumlords who want to free up a new apartment. It is also technically illegal but not enforceable.

What Should You Do If You Have Reason To Believe Your Landlord Wants You Out?

Honestly, you might want to leave simply because it is often easier to break the least and leave on good terms. If you are not in a position to leave, try not to jump to conclusions too soon. Even if you aren’t 100 percent sure, now would be the time to be a model tenant.

If you have the least bit of concern about your landlord wanting to break your lease or evict you, the best thing you can do is get a paper trail started. Oh, and make sure to call a lawyer. You want to make sure that your rights are protected in your state.

What Should You Do If Your Landlord Didn’t Cash Your Check?

Before you assume something bad is going on, it’s best to take a lighter approach. Here’s what you should do:

  • Ask, via email or certified mail, if they have received your check. If they didn’t, it got lost in the mail and it may be best to replace it.
  • In the event that your landlord received your check, ask why they haven’t cashed it yet and request a receipt. In most states, your landlord is obligated to give you a receipt showing that you have paid your rent or given them a check.
  • Keep the rent money in your bank, no matter how tempting it is. Your landlord still has a right to that money if they so choose. If they want to cash all the checks at once to try to oust you, then having that money in the bank will be your saving grace.

Can You Sue A Landlord For Refusing To Cash Your Check?

While you might be tempted to bring your landlord to court for holding your checks, the truth is that most courts will not take your case. In most states, your landlord gets to decide when your checks get cashed. Though most states do not have laws protecting renters, some do.

If you are worried about being illegally evicted or otherwise getting jerked around by your landlord, calling a lawyer is the best possible course of action. Your lawyer will be able to determine your rights, come up with a plan, and also tell you what you can do to defend yourself in court.

Why Do You Need A Receipt For Your Rent Check?

Legally, you should get a receipt for your rent check or have some proof that you gave them a check. This is true, even if they do not cash the check. The receipt acts as proof that you made an attempt to pay your rent in a timely manner. It’s your defense in court.

Can A Landlord Sue You If The Check Expires Before They Cash It?

Rent will still be due, even if they don’t cash the check. If the check expired before the landlord cashed it, they can still ask for a new check that they can claim. The debt is still there, even if there has been an attempt to pay it. The only time that a landlord can’t ask for a new check is if the statute of limitations has passed on debt.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Rent Debt Collection?

This depends from state to state, much like how criminal statute of limitations vary. In most states, it takes six to seven years before a debt is deemed no longer collectible. However, it’s best to take a look at what your state’s limits are before you assume that you’re home free.

Related Questions

Can I be penalized if my rent check gets lost in the mail?

It is a tenant’s responsibility to make sure your rent check gets in the landlord’s hands in a timely manner, within the grace period they give you. You absolutely can get penalized if you don’t get your check to them. This means you should always check with your landlord to see if they received it. A timely checkup can prevent you from getting penalized.

How can you ensure that your landlord receives your checks?

The easiest ways to ensure that your landlord gets your rent money is to do online payments (if they allow it) or to send it via certified mail. Since it’s certified, they have to actually show proof of delivery to you. Though certified mail does offer a paper trail, you still should ask for a receipt every time that you pay rent.

Which apartments are most at-risk for landlords attempting to force out paying renters through staged nonpayment?

Rent-stabilized apartments are the most common targets for landlords who want to push out renters. This is often done to end the rent stabilization aspect of the apartment, which in turn, will give landlords more money at the end of each month. Technically, this may be illegal in certain cities.If you are worried about dodgy landlords, it’s important to take a look at their current track record. Are tons of people moving out? It might not be a good idea to call that place home.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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