Dealing with landlord who wants rent paid in cash

Maureen, whom I have mentioned before, rented a house recently in San Pedro, not the best of communities by my estimation. Anyway, the landlord insists that the rent be paid in cash–no checks or money orders. Maureen is suspicious of this, but spurned my suggestion that she pay in in all one-dollar bills–she says that’s going too far (so does a lawyer I know). I don’t really think it’s safe to muster so much cash at one time in that neighborhood; still, is that landlord still within his rights?

Yes he can request to be paid in cash only, however she needs to make sure that she gets a signed receipt every payment. The issue with cash is that there is no record of payment.

It smacks of someone trying to hide income. There is no reason that a money order or bank’s counter check should not be accepted unless he is trying to hide income as those are guaranteed payment instruments.

As aruvqan notes, the landlord may well be asking for cash so as to avoid declaring it as income. On a practical level, it won’t be the monthly/weekly payment which you need to worry about as for as long as you’re living there and he’s getting the cash it’s hunky-dory. But I’d be a lot more wary if a deposit/bond is asked for, as he may be rather ‘casual’ in the return of this, too.

My reaction is to wonder if “cash only” was stipulated at the time the rental agreement was made. If not, I feel as if she’s well within her rights to say she’s not walking around with fat piles of cash. Of course I’m spineless and would never actually stand up to a landlord, but it’s easy to suggest that others do

As an aside, I feel really naive. My first thought at reading the OP was “poor landlord. Must’ve been burned by bad checks” Hiding income wouldn’t have occurred to me without prompting, but of course it seems perfectly plausible.

I’d tell the guy that I didn’t feel comfortable carrying that amount of cash with me, and arrange to meet him at MY bank/credit union. I’d also get a receipt stating the amount of cash paid, and exactly what it was for. Something like “1000 dollars received for rent on apartment 3G, in full payment of November 2010”.

And I agree that this smacks of someone not wanting to leave a paper trail, either to avoid declaring income or as a way to extort more money from the renter later on.

Agree with the other responses, plus - if someone asked me to do this, I would want a significant discount (10%?) for the inconvenience. To me, that 10% would probably be worth it, as I don’t have an issue with large amounts of cash. But I don’t see why I should have to go along with it without any benefit to me (unless, as previously stated, it was in the initial rental agreement).

As to the actual question in the OP, if there is nothing specified in the rental agreement, it seems to me that the legal issue is whether a private individual can refuse certain methods of guaranteed payment. I am not a lawyer, but I hope one comes in who can answer this. We have a few CA lawyers on the board, I believe. Of course, ultimately, contesting the issue may not be worth the hassle even if Maureen is within her rights to insist on paying by money order.

Make sure you get a receipt every time. That’s what really counts.

I’d be ticked if this wasn’t divulged before she moved in. I think if he wants cash, he should come get it from her instead of expecting her to walk around with large sums of cash on her.

I agree with both of these suggestions. Paying in cash is nowhere near as easy as writing a check, so the landlord should at least have to bear some of the inconvenience.

When I lived in my first apartment, not only did the landlord insist on cash, but he insisted that it be mailed via USPS. Oh, and he sent out eviction notices to everyone in the building because he misplaced everyone’s rent one month.

To be fair, it wasn’t actually the landlord, but his assistant. Dumb as a bag of spatulas, that girl. I understand that she eventually got fired for extreme dimwittedness.

This + “get a full receipt!” seems like the best non-lawyer answer. Erm … where da attorneys at?

He wants cash so his “friends” know what day to wait for you before you pay the rent.

Unreasonable and illegal:
*Check or Cash?

The landlord or landlord’s agent normally cannot require you to pay rent in cash. However, the landlord or agent can require you to pay rent in cash if, within the last three months, you have paid the landlord or agent with a check that has been dishonored by the bank. (A dishonored check is one that the bank returns without paying because you stopped payment on it or because your account did not have enough money in it.)

In order to require you to pay rent in cash, the landlord must first give you a written notice stating that your check was dishonored and that you must pay cash for the period of time stated by the landlord. This period cannot be more than three months after you:

ordered the bank to stop payment on the check, or
attempted to pay with a check that the bank returned to the landlord because of insufficient funds in your account.
The landlord must attach a copy of the dishonored check to the notice. If the notice changes the terms of your rental agreement, the landlord must give you the proper amount of advance notice (see Before You Agree to Rent).107

These same rules apply if the landlord requests that you pay the security deposit in cash.

EXAMPLE: Suppose that you have a month-to-month rental agreement and that your rent is due on the first of the month. Suppose that the rental agreement does not specify the form of rent payment (check, cash, money order, etc.) or the amount of notice required to change the terms of the agreement (see Before You Agree to Rent).

On April 1, you give your landlord your rent check for April. On April 11, your landlord receives a notice from his bank stating that your check has been dishonored because you did not have enough money in your account. On April 12, the landlord hands you a notice stating that your check was dishonored and that you must pay rent in cash for the next three months. What are your rights and obligations under these facts? What are the landlord’s rights and obligations?

Unfortunately, the law that allows the landlord to require cash payments does not clearly answer these questions. The following is based on a fair interpretation of the law.

The requirement that you pay rent in cash changes the terms of your rental agreement and takes effect in 30 days (on May 12). This is because under your rental agreement, the landlord must give you 30 days’ notice of changes in it. Before You Agree to Rent.) Therefore, you could pay your May 1 rent payment by check. However, this might cause the landlord to serve you with a 30-day notice to end the tenancy (See Before You Agree to Rent). The requirement that you pay rent in cash continues for three months after the landlord received the notice that your check was dishonored (through July 10). You would have to pay your June 1 and July 1 rent payments in cash, if the tenancy continues. What about your April 1 rent check that was returned by the landlord’s bank? As a practical matter, you should make the check good immediately. If you don’t, the landlord can serve you with a three-day notice, which is the first step in an action to evict you (see Terminations and Evictions).108

Obtaining receipts for rent payments

If you pay your rent in cash or with a money order, you should ask your landlord for a signed and dated receipt. Legally, you are entitled to a written receipt whenever you pay your rent.109 If you pay with a check, you can use the canceled check as a receipt. Keep the receipts or canceled checks so that you will have records of your payments *

Civil Code Section 1947.3**
(a) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a landlord or
a landlord’s agent may not demand or require cash as the exclusive
form of payment of rent or deposit of security.
(2) A landlord or a landlord’s agent may demand or require cash as
the exclusive form of payment of rent or deposit of security if the
tenant has previously attempted to pay the landlord or landlord’s
agent with a check drawn on insufficient funds or the tenant has
instructed the drawee to stop payment on a check, draft, or order for
the payment of money. The landlord may demand or require cash as the
exclusive form of payment only for a period not exceeding three
months following an attempt to pay with a check on insufficient funds
or following a tenant’s instruction to stop payment. If the landlord
chooses to demand or require cash payment under these circumstances,
the landlord shall give the tenant a written notice stating that the
payment instrument was dishonored and informing the tenant that the
tenant shall pay in cash for a period determined by the landlord, not
to exceed three months, and attach a copy of the dishonored
instrument to the notice. The notice shall comply with Section 827 if
demanding or requiring payment in cash constitutes a change in the
terms of the lease.
(3) Paragraph (2) does not enlarge or diminish a landlord’s or
landlord’s agent’s legal right to terminate a tenancy.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the issuance of a money
order or a cashier’s check is direct evidence only that the
instrument was issued.
© A waiver of the provisions of this section is contrary to
public policy, and is void and unenforceable.

OP, ypu may want to make copies of this and give it to your landlord. ianal

In addition, I’d move as fast as I could. No way do I want to be anywhere near a landlord that is taking money in cash. Does he have a meth lab in his basement, or what?

Uh, never mind.

Meh. I have interactions with people who prefer cash. Maybe they are hiding income from the IRS or an ex spouse. Maybe they’ve been burned by bad checks. From my point of view, the reason is none of my business, so either I pay in cash or I take my business elsewhere.

Sure, you could show the landlord a cite regarding the legality of the situation. But the next time your toilet stops working . . .

I don’t understand. The link seems to be clearly in re: California.

ETA: Tag, you’re it. :smack:

You then notify your landlord. If the problem isn’t fixed, you report him to Code Enforcement or “repair and deduct”. It’s the fucking Law.

Altho the reason may be none of your business, there’s a personal safety issue, and it’s hwaaaay too easy for a landlord to claim the rent was not rcvd.

I realize that. I also realize that the repair could be done immediately, or it could be done tomorrow and still be considered timely.

And, would you want to do business with a man who withheld legally required services as long as possible due to the fact he made illegal demands as to payment methods?