Late Rent because of errors on check

6 Replies

Hello,

My tenant is upset because I am charging him a late fee because his check had an error on it and the bank would not cash it with that error. He says he should not be assessed a late fee because he sent me the check early enough that I could have let him know about the error. Unfortunately, I did not see the error prior to going to the bank, nor do I really think it is my responsibility to proofread his checks. Am I in the wrong????

Also, these types of instances seem to happen from time to time with my other tenants as well. I really want to move away from checks- any luck using other systems? Like online?

@Daniel Liu Is the tenant a quality tenant who just made a honest mistake?  Or are they the type of tenant who has a new excuse every month?

If the tenant is solid then I would let this slide, but let them know that if it happens again you have to charge a late fee.

I have seen landlords chase quality tenants away because they get nit picky and what does the tenant do?  They simply move on because they have other options, options where they will not be bothered by minutia.

Like Michael says I think it's dependent on what kind of tenant he has been. As the man collecting the checks, I think it is in your best interest to proofread, particularly if he really did give the check to you early. What does it take? 10 seconds to look at a check to make sure it's correct? You don't want to push him away if he's a good tenant. Good luck!

I agree. If he's a quality tenant that made a one time mistake, it's in your best interest to waive the late fees this time and let him know there may be a late fee next time.

As for getting away from checks, all of my tenants (17 units) bring their rent to my bank and deposit it. The bank gives them a receipt and notes the depositor on my statement. I go online and see "Sally Smith $750" or "John Doe $800". Tenants can mail it to the bank or walk it in. They can pay with checks or cash, and the teller is doing the proofreading.

Appreciate it guys. I decided to waive it because this tenant is new to the group of students living in this house. Unfortunately, late rent IS an issue with this group, but since the student is new to these issues, I didn't assess it. Like you all have said, if it happens again- I will enforce it. Thanks!

@Dale Loo

I actually just had a similar situation happen to me. In my case, I let it slide because the tenant involved has been great and this isn't an every month thing. My lease does address the issue, however. It says something to the effect of the tenant being responsible for late fees if a check doesn't clear. And it's not your responsibility to proofread checks.

I accept personal checks and haven't had many problems. I also use eRentPayment.com and PayNearMe.com. You could always require tenants with more than one instance of check issues to pay with another method.

Originally posted by @Carl Carlson :

Like Michael says I think it's dependent on what kind of tenant he has been. As the man collecting the checks, I think it is in your best interest to proofread, particularly if he really did give the check to you early. What does it take? 10 seconds to look at a check to make sure it's correct? You don't want to push him away if he's a good tenant. Good luck!

I agree. It only takes a few seconds to look at the check before depositing it. I'm quite sure the tellers at our credit union would catch most check errors as well before processing. Honest mistakes happen. Sometimes it is good to be flexible.

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