If you live in a rental unit and your landlord begins to refuse to take your rental payments, you may be worried that you will be evicted for nonpayment of rent. In some cases, this is a strategy that unscrupulous landlords use to get rid of tenants that they can't otherwise evict. Knowing your rights and responsibilities in this situation will protect you from unlawful eviction.
Landlord Tenant Law
Every state has a different set of laws that govern the contractual responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Most laws protect tenants from unreasonable eviction but allow landlords to be able to protect their property from tenants who damage it. Under all state laws, tenants are required to pay rent according to the rental agreement, but what happens when the landlord refuses to take your rent or cash your rent check? As long as you are following all of the other clauses in the lease, the landlord's refusal to accept payment does not impact your rights as a tenant as long as you can prove that you paid or attempted to do so.
Steps to Prove You Have Paid
If your landlord will not accept full payment from you, and it is not late and you have not been served with any notices, you need to be able to show a court, should it come to that, that you have attempted to fulfill your part of the contract. Start by mailing the payment by certified or registered mail to the landlord's address listed on the contract. This type of mail provides you with documentation of when you sent the payment and when it was received at the landlord's address. If she refuses to accept delivery, that will also be documented. In this situation, open an escrow account and deposit the funds. This will show a court that you have gone to serious lengths to ensure you have paid your rent.
If you are trying to make a partial rent payment, the landlord is under no obligation to accept it. Your lease will state that payment is due in full on a certain date. Accepting partial payment of rent can affect the landlord's rights of eviction in some states, so if your landlord is trying to get rid of you, it is unlikely she will take a partial payment. You may be served with a 3-day pay-or-vacate notice if you cannot come up with the whole payment.
Reasons a Landlord Can Refuse Rent
There are some situations where a landlord can legally refuse to take your payment, other than partial payment. If you have already been served an eviction notice after not curing a contract deficiency as notified, the landlord will not accept further rent payments from you, except for rental arrears. If your lease has run out and your landlord has served you appropriate notice to vacate, she will not accept further payments from you. If you are trying to pay in a form that is not specified in the rental agreement, the landlord is not required to accept it. For example, if your lease says that you must pay by check or cash, the landlord could refuse to accept a money order or traveler's checks.