Contracts Forbid Paying With Cash?

A few years ago, I applied to rent an apartment. When my application was approved, I was told I must provide the deposit in the form of a money order.

The practical reasons for this are clear. If you’re the apartment renter, you don’t want to trust a personal check to safeguard your new relationship, and you don’t want gobs of cash lying around to attract the nasties.

But I was under the impression that cash is legal payment for Anything, meaning that I can’t sell lemonade on the street and demand payment in money orders, Green Stamps, or anything else.

It’s an issue that’s so trivial that it’s not worth fighting. (What was I gonna do? Call a cop? File suit to recover the 80 cents it took to buy a money order?) But trivial issues are bread and butter here, so I ask the Teeming Millions, can you legally contractually require non-cash payment?

In the same manner that you can require payment by a certain time, etc. I would guess you can require a certain form of payment.

“The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.”

–Joseph A. Schempeter

As long as the demand for payment breaks no laws against discrimination in that jurisdiction, I don’t see why you can’t demand any form of payment you want. I don’t think the use of money has been legislated; you could pay in goats, if your landlord would accept it.

I guess you’re questioning the phrase on bills that says “Legal tender for all debts public and private.” I’ve often wondered about that myself. I guess you could claim till the deposit is paid there is no contract so you haven’t incurred the debt yet.

I think that phrase “Legal tender for all debts public or private” is intended to mean that it can be accepted as payment (i.e. the gov’t agrees to back it up with a corresponding amount of AU) not that it must be accepted.

This reminds me though of a story back home in Canada. I remember there was a something about somebody being refused a purchase because they wanted to pay in unrolled pennies and other bits of change but mainly pennies (it was a $20 purchase) and they store had a policy which stated that they they would only accept a large amount of coins if they were rolled. The person sued the store (for some measly amount of money on the principle of the thing … like $100 or something) and won. The court ruled that legal money could not be refused.

So maybe it does mean that it must be accepted.

A contract can require you to do anything as long as it is not illegal. It could have REQUIRED you to pay in goats. If you don’t like it don’t sign it. I THINK the wording on the bills means the government will back up your debt if it is paid for with one of "their’ bills

All sorts of mail-in order forms specify that the payment must be by check or money order. What is especially significant is that (unless I’m mistaken) the U.S. Income Tax form makes this same demand.

FIE on you bernard! but Our money isn’t backed up by gold any more. They are ‘reserve notes’ not backed by anything as far as I can see, just the govt. saying that it is worth one dollar.

When we were talking about this same subject in my econ class. My teacher said that you can pay for ANYTHING with cash. If the person dosen’t except cash as payment for something (even if you owe service or what not) you can just drop it on the ground and walk away. All though on the other hand I think by signing a contract it changes everything.

Formerly known as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

I am fairly sure, as has been stated, that the signing of the contract is what changes the situation. As someone else said, if you do not want to abide by it then don’t sign. The other mention of paying in pennies, I believe Cecil covered. Someone cannot refuse payment with nothing but pennies, though they may can require it to be rolled, imagine buying a car with nothing but unrolled pennies. Apparently the court in the above matter felt differently, but those things will probably be decided on a case by case basis. $20 is not that much to count, $20,000 is.


Yes, they can refuse to take cash for payment. It’s prefectly legal.

Well, I don’t know how much this has to do with your apartment, but I remember reading before that it is illegal to buy a car with a briefcase full of cash. Reason being that too many people were laundering money via the automotive industry and forcing them to pay with a check, money order, etc left some form of a paper trail. As I recall, this applied to (a) dealerships, not private car owners and (b) new cars. I think it was a state law, so your own state may prohibit the same for rental contracts, but obviously I don’t know.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

OK, my 2 cents (and read into that what you will) of a total WAG, but:

When you agree to purchase something, you agree to compensate the person with the * value * agreed upon and also the means of * transfering * that value. Thus, if you agree to buy or rent or otherwise obtain a good or a service, the provider is under no obligation to accept any particular means of transfering the value. Currency(“cash”) is merely one means to transfer value; it is one guaranteed by the government. A check or a credit card (or in the old days a letter of credit) is guaranteed by the issuing bank. The provider is under no obligation to accept any one form, but practicality decides which one: Thus small pizza joints accept only cash, and not checks or credit cards; but car dealers accept the latter and not the former. A vendor cannot deny selling you something for any number of reasons, but s/he can deny selling it to you if the method of transaction is not acceptable to him or her.

Jason R Remy

“One pill makes you taller, and one pill makes you small, but the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all”
– Jefferson Airplane * White Rabbit * (Slick, G. 1966)

The United States has been off the gold standard for 25 years. I know, picky picky.

Yes but couldn’t you also say that since you cannot Contract into anything illegal, if denying you the right to pay by cash is illegal thus their is no contract. Thus signing it means nothing to nobody IF it was illegal. Which kind of brings you back full circle.

As for paying for a car in cash you certainly can. BUT all cash transactions over 10,000 must be reported (to someone) thus they can check if you are using drug money or whatever.

My take on the discussion:

  1. The Legal Tender arguement is misleading. It isn’t to guarantee that you can pay in cash; it’s to enforce the government’s declaration that non-redeemable Federal Reserve notes are legal money. “Good for all debts public and private” pretty much means that the person you owe can’t demand bullion or bullion notes as payment.

  2. Contracts mean that you have agreed to do it their way, short of surrendering your legal rights. If the contract says check or money order, that’s what you pay or no deal. I think however, that if you didn’t pay your rent for three months and you got hauled into claims court for the money you owed, you could make the landlord accept cash in payment of your debt. Your lease would be void, but he would have to accept your legal tender for the back debt.

  3. Pennies. Again, legal tender. However, for any non-discriminatory reason, a store can decide that it simply doesn’t want your business. If they won’t accept pennies, there’s no sale to begin with. What they can’t do is sell you something, refuse to accept the pennies, and then claim you still owe them money.
    As an aside, I believe that in certain cases such as alimony payments, judges have ruled that the payee can’t pay in pennies to be spiteful.

As my miserly,old uncle said when the govt. went off the gold standard,“Au their no fun anymore.”

You want picky how about this! It’s Au not AU! :smiley:

As far as I can tell they gots to take it.

According to the Encyclopedia of Banking and Finance,
“Present legal tender power of all coins and currencies of the United States is not qualified as to limitations of any form of same. Thus even the lowly cent piece is legal tender in unlimited amount. Of course any debtor who goes out of his way to assemble the required amounts of minor coin and transport these for effective legal tender to a creditor on a large debt would incur the extra expense of such arrangements.”

From Encarta online,
Legal Tender, offer, usually of money, made in satisfaction of a debt or other liability and in accordance with requirements prescribed by law. In the United States, legal tender usually signifies the currency designated by law that a debtor may offer and a creditor is obligated to accept in the settlement of financial obligations.

Attempts to find additional information from the Federal reserve board , the US mint and US department of Treasury websites was mind numbing. I suspect the info is on the Federal reserve site but it crashed my browser twice and I aint goin back

Hey, I don’t know about your money not be backed by Au but my money is most certainly backed by AU which as everybody knows is the … ummm … uhhh … secret universal building block stuff … yeah that’s it … heh … they’ll never figure out I am bluffing on this one … hey is this keyboard still on? DOH!