Pay your rent

Most renters know they need to pay their rent every month. But when should you pay your rent? Usually, in most leases, it states that rent needs to be paid on the first of every month. It might state you have a ‘grace period’ to pay. This means that if you mail your rent to the landlord on the first of the month, but the mail does not arrive at the landlord’s office until the end of the grace period, your rent will be considered on time. Your lease or rental agreement can specify any day of the month as the date the rent is due. For example, the rent due date could be the first Tuesday of the month or the lease could specify that rent must be paid by the 10th of the month. If the landlord has a fee for the rent being paid after the due date, it must be clearly stated in the lease. The fee must be related to the costs your landlord encounters as a result of your rent being late.

Your lease should also state the address of where the rent is to be paid. It is better to pay the rent by check. Your landlord cannot demand that your rent be paid in cash, unless your check has been refused by the bank for lack of funds. The law allows a landlord to demand that you pay your rent in cash for the next three months after your rent check is refused by the bank. For example, if your August rent check “bounced” then your landlord could demand that you pay your rent for September, October and November in cash. You would also need to submit a payment for your August rent. If you must pay rent in cash, always ask for a receipt. If you pay rent by check, the cancelled check can be your receipt.

A violation of your lease occurs by not paying all of the rent to the landlord on time. If you cannot pay the full amount, you can try making a partial payment. However, the landlord has the option of taking your partial payment and then giving you a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. If your landlord is willing to take a partial payment on your rent and let you pay the rest later, you should try to get the agreement in writing. The agreement should detail the amount of rent that you have paid, when you will be paying the rest of the rent, any late fee, and your landlord’s promise not to evict you before the final rent payment is due. Both you and the landlord should sign the agreement, and you should keep a copy in with your important papers.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Tenant Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

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