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nikipedia's avatar

How should we handle this landlord/rent issue?

Asked by nikipedia (28045points) February 27th, 2012

I live in a house with 4 other people. We send our landlord one check, issued by my boyfriend’s bank. It’s an online bank, so they send the check directly rather than us writing a paper check and mailing it.

Our landlord called yesterday to say he never got February’s rent and would be charging a $100 late fee. We checked with the bank, and they said they had definitely sent the check on February 1 and offered to do a three way call with the landlord to tell him.

We do not want to piss off the landlord and are willing to pay the $100. So I guess we could just do that and be done with it. But paying for it when it was not our mistake doesn’t feel right to me, and it seems like an admission of guilt. It seems entirely plausible to me that this guy got the check, lost it, and forgot about it.

How should we handle this?

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16 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Do the three-way call with the bank and the landlord.

Don’t pay the fee unless it is proven he did not get the check.

Blackberry's avatar

Do the three way call and don’t pay the 100 until the call is settled. I re-signed my lease once and they lost it, and started charging me month-to-month rent because they thought I didn’t sign it. So I called them and they miraculously found it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Call the bank to find out if that check was ever cashed. If the check has been cashed, the bank usually gets a copy of it and would be able to see that your landlord endorsed the check to cash it (along with the date it was done). If it hasn’t been cashed, it is possible that the check got lost and you need to put a stop payment on it just in case someone else gets it.

If the check hasn’t been cashed, it’s hard to say that the landlord did or didn’t get it, but since it isn’t cashed, you at least know that he didn’t get the funds (even if he lost the check). Since you wouldn’t be able to prove which one happened, at least you can prove that you did have the check sent on time by having the tree-way call. Maybe your landlord will work with you on it if he knows that you did make the effort to make the payment on time. It also may alert the landlord to a possible issue with his mail if he is missing other things as well.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I could give you some really good advice, but I charge a $100 fee for having to be the 4th person to answer things, so while I will tell you what I think, I will be needing that $100 by tomorrow.

This person has no grounds to just demand more money. I don’t know what the laws are like your side of the screen, but I’m guessing they don’t have the authority to issue fines.

I would personally get my stuff together and leave, this $100 thing is just a sign of things to come.

If you do decide to stay you need to resolve the situation were you are responsible for 3 others payment, as this will most likely be the next thing to cause problems.

Judi's avatar

Legally, (I my state anyway) You are responsible for getting it to them on time, so if push comes to shove, you would be stuck with it if the bank didn’t have delivery confirmation.
That being said, is the landlord a reasonable person? Do you think he might be willing to listen to the three way call and maybe split the $100 with you?

john65pennington's avatar

In order to avoid any future confusion, cancel the bank paying the check and one of you hand deliver it to him in person each month. I would make a copy of the check first, just to have some in-hand proof showing the date, etc.

If your landlord states he never received your payment in his account, ask him to get you a bank statement of his account that shows no deposit. This will either make or break your situation.

You bank will gladly give you a certified copy of your check that was deposited into your landlords account.

Whatever you do, do not pay the extra $100 to him. Make him prove he did not receive your money.

If he does this once and gets away with it, he will attempt it again.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We also pay our bills via our online banking.

First of all I ditto all of @Judi‘s response. To that, I add:

When we’ve had an issue with a payment getting to a credit card company on time (due to the bank’s issue, not ours), the credit card company wrote off the late fee.

From that point on, we set our payment to go out a few days earlier, so we could be certain it cleared prior to the due date. If this were me, I’d adjust the rent payment to be issued a day or two ahead of what you have it set for now.

Then, I’d write the Landlord a letter stating that he/she should phone you if the payment hasn’t been rec’d on or before the first of the month.

I have had tenants do this with me. I found no hassle in doing this.

For this late payment, if he makes you pay this $100 late fee. I’d send a letter with it. State on the letter that you expect it to be kept in your permanent file. The late payment was the fault of your online bank payment and was through no fault of your own.

BosM's avatar

Yes, have a 3-way call, but get your proof and know how you’ll approach it. Trying to reason with the landlard is your best bet. Given the real estate market the landlord may want to think twice before risking the loss of a good tennant.

1. Check with the bank as to the status of the check. If it cleared, find out when it did.
2. Provide the landlord proof the check was issued by the bank on or before the deadline.
3. If you have always paid on time, remind the landlord of that.
4. Consider another way to pay the landlord. For example, if you share the same bank do a direct transfer of money into his account. This may be an attractive alternative enticing the landlord to forgive the late fee this time.

jca's avatar

Do you have a lease that specifies that there’d be a $100 charge for a late fee? How is the fee assessed? I would check with the bank, as others have said, to see if check was cashed and then do the 3 way call.

This event would make me leery and if it were me, I would consider delivering the check in person from now on, if he is possibly going to pull this crap again. $100 seems kind of steep.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@jca I’m not the Landlord in this case, but usually how it goes is: $25 to $50 late fee at such a date, then $10 per day there after up to $100.

nikipedia's avatar

@poisonedantidote, it would take a lot to get us to move. The rent is really underpriced for the area.

@Judi, he’s a little difficult. I am not sure if it’s worth it to ask him to do the call if we’re just going to end up paying the fee anyway.

@SpatzieLover, we may be able to pay early but I don’t think it would make a difference. He didn’t contact us until the 26th, and often doesn’t deposit the check for 3–6 weeks after we send it. The late payment was not the fault of our bank—they can prove they sent it. It was either the post office, or the landlord himself who screwed up.

And since several people mentioned it, the check did not clear yet, according to our bank. We have stopped payment on it and are going to his house to pay in person tonight.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’d definitely talk it over with him, probably without the bank first. I think involving the bank just makes it into you calling in another party to “prove” him wrong when it really doesn’t prove anything in this case. I’d go into the conversation with the goal of making sure we never owe another $100, if you can get him to waive it this month, that’s a bonus.

I’ve never heard of anyone who rents anything and calls you three weeks after rent is due to let you know they never got it. My landlord has been a friend for 15 years and he’d still be outside my door if I was two days late. The 26th is crazy, inefficient, and would make me think he just can’t find your check.

Maybe explain your setup (“the bank delivers your check automatically”) and ask that if he ever doesn’t have rent the day before it becomes late to call you and give you the opportunity to hand deliver it? To keep him from the defensive, maybe ask if there’s a way to avoid this in the future?

It sounds like it would be a pain, but less painful than the current situation.

nikipedia's avatar

@funkdaddy, I also am inclined to believe he can’t find it. Which makes me more reluctant to just had over the $100.

Asking him to notify us before it’s late is a good solution. But we may end up just hand-delivering from now on to avoid any of this.

SpatzieLover's avatar

He didn’t contact us until the 26th, and often doesn’t deposit the check for 3–6 weeks after we send it.

Wow @nikipedia. Then it sounds to me like it’s his personal problem, not yours. I’d let him know that you should have been contacted by the 5th if he didn’t receive your payment. From now on you expect that he’ll contact you prior to the 10th if your payment hasn’t cleared.

His poor book-keeping issues are not your problem.

jca's avatar

@nikipedia: so because he waits a month to a month and a half to notify you that he did not receive your check (whether he did receive it or he didn’t), this becomes your problem to have to pay the $100 fine?

Please post an update as to the outcome, if you wish.

The Update lady

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