Question by hollywood.bound: Landlord cash rent check before rent is due?
At the end of November the oven broke in our rental house; the landlord asked us to pay for the repair and deduct the amount from the January’s rent check, as December’s check had already been mailed. We complied. This month after returning home from Christmas vacation on the evening of December 25th, the furnace was out. It was 56 degrees in the house and freezing. When we spoke with the landlord she asked us to make the same arrangements we had with the oven repairs. However, this month we owe my OB $ 600, a portion of my overall labor and delivery fee (I am 6 months pregnant, due in April), and we did not have extra money to repair the heater. I explained to her that that wasn’t an option this month and she agreed to pay for the repairs, scheduling them for today, Thursday, December 30th.

This morning my husband checked our bank account; I always send the rent check a few days before it’s due (in this case Monday, December 27th) to ensure that it arrives on time, as my landlord lives out of state. We get paid the 1st of every month; the same day rent is due. Needless to say, we didn’t have the funds in our account to cover the rent check before its due date. Because of our overdraft protection, the bank took all of our money in checkings and savings to cover the check. It wasn’t enough and we were then charged overdraft fees for every transaction made the previous day. The check was post dated for January 1st, 2011, but the bank teller said they no longer honor post dated checks. But in the same token, why, seeing the funds were unavailable, was the check not refused?

We’ve come to the conclusion that the landlord probably opted to cash the check early to pay for the furnace repairs. Reviewing our lease, it’s extremely vague in regards to this issue and whether her actions were acceptable from a legal standpoint. “Tenant will pay the monthly rent so that the Landlord receives the monthly rent on or before the first of every each month during the lease.” It goes on to say that, “Weekends, holidays, and mail delays do not excuse Tenant’s obligation to timely pay rent.” So essentially, if I send the check early to make sure it is there on time, the bank won’t protect me if she chooses to withdraw the money early, whether the funds are available or not.

At the same time, if I send the check a little later and it happens to not arrive by the 1st, I’m not paying “timely” and am liable for any issues with the mail delivery, etc. How is this fair? I’m trying to be a good tenant and pay her on time, but I’m not willing to allow her to overdraft my account again if the check winds up in her hands before rent is due. Do I have any rights whatsoever? Or am I just supposed to take it up both ends as it were?
Yes, I understand that the bank can accept post dated checks regardless of the date marked on them; the date on the check was more for my landlord’s benefit. However, what I don’t understand is seeing that the funds were NOT available, why was it not refused? The check should have been returned to the landlord and bounced. Instead, the bank allowed her to cash it. The only reason I can see for this is to get more money by over-drafting me for everything I had paid for that I now did not have funds to cover. I had $ 150 in checking and $ 500 in savings; rent is $ 1200.
In addition, it should also be noted that in the 4 months that we’ve lived at this residence, the landlord has NEVER taken the money early. In fact, most months she waits until the last week before she’ll deposit the money.
I do NOT have an over-draft account. I have a SAVINGS account that it hooked up to the CHECKING account to cover minor accidental over-drafts. I do not have any credit cards or accounts specifically designated for this sort of thing. My accounts are simply synced as a precautionary measure. And I have NEVER prior to this incident over-drafted my account. I’m not some derelict person who doesn’t take care of their bills. I am a tenant who, wanting to ensure my landlord had her check on time, sent it early as a courtesy to her, and am now being penalized for that through my bank because she chose to take the money before it was due. BTW it is not illegal to postdate a check and I did not knowingly write a bad check. I wrote a check to be cashed on a specific date when I knew the funds WOULD be available, the same way they are EVERY month. If I gave my rent check to an apartment complex before the due date, it would not be taken from my account until that day. Bottom line, the bank took t
the funds from the account knowing they weren’t sufficient because they wanted to incur over-draft fees. It is money right into their pocket.

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