Do landlords accept cash? Is a question many renters ask, especially if they are renting a home for the first time. This is a particular concern for those who are paid in cash because they do not have a bank account, for renters who do not want to use checks, or for those who don’t feel comfortable setting up a direct account to account payment.
So, do landlords accept cash? Yes, some landlords accept cash, and in fact, some prefer cash. There is no federal law to say landlords must accept cash, but some states do have regulations to say landlords must offer this option. Forms of payment the landlord will take are usually detailed in the lease agreement.
There are pros and cons to paying with cash for both landlords and renters. For some people, this is the only option. If this is the case for you, read on and find out how to ensure you do not run into any problems. If you do have a choice, then this article will help you make an informed decision over whether or not cash is the best option for you.
Advantages Of Cash Rental Payments
For both renters and landlords, there can be advantages to making the rent payment a cash transaction.
Renters who prefer making their monthly payments in cash say that the advantages are that you:
- Do not have to worry about having enough money in the bank to cover a cheque. – This is especially important for those who may be forgetful and use debit or e-transfers on a regular basis. This can lead to less cash than you realize in the bank, resulting in a bounced rent cheque or an unfulfilled direct deposit.
- Don’t need to order, and pay for cheques that you will only use for rent payments.
- Avoid the hassle of going to the bank or post office for cashiers cheques or money orders.
- Won’t have to worry about late cashed cheques interfering with your cash-flow.
- Do not have concerns, or cheque cancelation fees, if you provided a year worth of post-dated cheques and the tenancy ends early.
Besides, not everyone has a bank account, especially those who may be relying on a low paying job. Banks are under no obligation to provide an account to anyone who applies and if you are not an “attractive financial prospect” you may find yourself with no option but to pay for money orders or pay with cash.
Renters are not the only ones who may benefit from cash rent payments. Landlords who accept cash find that they:
- Do not have any transaction fees to pay for processing credit-card, cheque, direct deposit, or other forms of payment.
- Avoid having to chase tenants who write bad cheques
- Have less administration.
- Don’t have to listen to “the cheque is in the post” and other dubious explanations as to why the rent is late.
What Are The Problems With Cash Rental Payments?
However, as with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to making or accepting, rental payments in cash. Let’s take a look at the potential problems and how to reduce the risks of cash for rent.
Advice For Renters
If you are a tenant and you make your rent payments by cash there are a few things you should be aware of in order to minimize problems for both you and your landlord:
- Do not send cash through the mail. It is unlikely but it can be lost or stolen along the way, and you will have lost the money and still be responsible for that month’s rent.
- Always be sure to physically hand the cash to your landlord or their authorized agent. In this way you avoid an envelope of money going missing, cash being lost along the way, or any amount being stolen.
- Have your rent ready on the day the rent is payable. Count out the exact amount and do not expect your landlord to provide change or to accept less than the correct amount – unless this has been previously agreed between the two of you.
- Ask your landlord to count the cash when you hand it over to ensure that you have not made a mistake. This also protects you from any unscrupulous landlord who may return and claim that there was money missing.
- When you discuss your lease, ask that your landlord provide a signed receipt for the full rental amount at the time each cash payment is made. By doing so, your landlord can come to collect the rent with the appropriate receipt ready for you.
- Never hand over any cash without a receipt or in exchange for a receipt with a different amount than the rent you pay.
- Ensure your receipt is legible and has the date, time, and amount paid on it, as well as the name and the signature of the person accepting the money.
- If for some reason, an “official” receipt is not available, these details can be written down on any piece of paper, and an “official” receipt can be sent later.
- Keep all of your rent receipts together in an easily accessible place in case there should be a problem or questions at a later date.
Advice For Landlords
It is often our default position to assume that tenants need protecting from unscrupulous landlords, but this is not necessarily the case. While many landlords and tenant have a good relationship, plenty of landlords find themselves with problem tenants. For this reason, it is also essential for landlords to take steps to minimize potential problems.
- Always ensure that the lease agreement details of the rent amount, format, due date, and collection method.
- When taking on a new tenant, talk the agreement through with them and make sure you are both clear that you require the full, exact, cash payment on a particular day or date each payment period.
- Never accept partial payment in return for a full payment receipt. Once you have handed over a receipt for the total payment amount, you have no recourse if the tenant fails to make good on the difference.
- Ensure you, or your agent, carry a receipt book in case of an unexpected partial payment.
- Always count out the cash, in front of your tenant so you can both agree on the amount handed over. If you accept an envelope and later discover it is short, you may not be able to recover the difference.
- Do not allow tenants to leave the cash somewhere for you. If there is a reason the tenant cannot hand over the money in person at the agreed time, make alternative arrangements. This protects you both.
- No matter how busy, or distracted you might be, always take the time to make the cash for receipt exchange. If your tenant drops of their rent while you are busy and you agree to provide a receipt later you may forget. Then you may find yourself unsure whether or not the payment was made at all.
Don’t Forget Your Security
If you have the option to make or accept rental payments in cash, don’t forget about your personal safety. Criminals often monitor potential victims, and those people with a set routine can be especially vulnerable to crime.
For landlords and their agents who are collecting a number of cash payments:
- Consider taking an additional person with you to make you a less appealing target.
- Do not leave large amounts of cash in your vehicle while you are collecting other rents.
- Where possible, collect rents at different times of the day, in a different order each month, even consider staggering the days on which you collect.
- Deposit cash as soon as possible. This will minimize the potential for loss.
Renters also need to be aware of their security. If you pay your rent in cash:
- Only hand over your cash to a person you know has the authority to collect it. Imagine, if someone turns up at your door and says they are collecting on behalf of your landlord. If you do not know them, contact your landlord before handing the money over. What should you do if you cannot contact your landlord? It’s better to refuse to hand over the cash than to give it to someone you later discover to be a criminal.
- If you withdraw your cash from the bank, make the withdrawal on different days and at different times if possible.
- Do not discuss how much, or when you pay your rent in public. You should also avoid this discussion when people you do not know or trust are present.
As you can see, the answer to the questions “Do landlords accept cash?” is a resounding yes. However, except where there are state laws to say otherwise, they do not have to.
Whenever you pay your rent in cash, be careful to ensure both you and your landlord minimize the potential for problems. In addition, always take precautions to safeguard your own personal safety.
More Information From Real Estate Experts
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About The Author
Geoff Southworth is the creator of RealEstateInfoGuide.com, the site that helps new homeowners, investors, and homeowners-to-be successfully navigate the complex world of property ownership. Geoff is a real estate investor of 8 years has had experience as a manager of a debt-free, private real estate equity fund, as well as a Registered Nurse in Emergency Trauma and Cardiac Cath Lab Care. As a result, he has developed a unique “people first, business second” approach to real estate.