Paying Your Rent: Austin Tenants Council Tips for Renters
Eviction & Other Landlord Issues
Your lease should spell out how much rent you pay and when to pay it. Here, learn about ways to pay your rent, where the rent payment should go, and how to keep records of your payments.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are summarized and reproduced from the website of the Austin Tenants Council. The Austin Tenants Council serves the Austin, Texas, area, but its website has useful information for all Texas residents.
It is best to pay rent by personal check because it is the easiest to track if there is a dispute over whether payment was made.
Mailing the Check
Whether you can mail the check to your landlord depends on your lease.
Some landlords do allow the rent to be mailed, while others expect it to be delivered in person or put in a drop box.
Many tenants pay rent by mail, and there might not be any problem with this method of delivery. However, if the landlord claims the payment was not received, the only way to prove that the payment was mailed or that the landlord received it is to send it certified mail, return receipt requested through the U.S. Post Office, or by some other delivery service that requires a signature upon receipt. The cost for a certified letter is $5.54 and may be worthwhile for assurance of being able to prove when the payment was mailed and when it was received.
If a money order is used, one from the post office or a bank is often easier to track than other types. However, the company selling the money order cannot research it unless the purchaser has the stub with the money order number. Generally, though, money orders are difficult to track because the process can be time-consuming.
Using a traveler’s check is a method of payment rarely considered by tenants, yet it provides the easiest way, other than a personal check, to replace the check and stop payment. Most large banks will issue traveler’s checks for a small fee even if the purchaser does not have an account at the bank. The only drawback to traveler’s checks is that they are sold in predetermined amounts such as $150, $300, $500, etc. Traveler’s checks are accepted almost as readily as cash so any extra checks can be used for most other purposes.
If you pay in cash, get a receipt.
When payment is made with cash, the Texas Property Code, Section 92.011, requires a landlord to provide a written rent receipt to the tenant. Cash should NEVER be given to a landlord without a written receipt being provided IMMEDIATELY, and cash should NEVER be put into a drop slot. If an employee of a landlord steals a cash payment made in a drop slot, the tenant will have no proof payment was ever made, and most of the landlord’s employees know this.
Proving You Paid Rent
Whichever method of payment is used—cash, check, or money order—it is essential to have proof that the landlord received payment. Any written proof will suffice. If the landlord will not give the tenant a receipt, then the tenant should ask for the landlord’s signature on the money order stub or on a handwritten note that the tenant has written up. The receipt should indicate how much money was paid, what the payment was for, and the date it was paid. A money order stub or a copy of a check is not proof that the landlord received payment. If it is impossible to get a receipt, having a witness present at the time of payment is the next best thing.
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