3-Day Pay or Vacate but Rent never Late

10 Replies

Hey everyone! Posting to get some advice as I'm in a quandary here. Landlord just served me a 3-day pay or vacate that states that I didn't pay partial rent for last Oct, didn't pay rent for November, didn't pay this current January, late fees and an additional amount for the 'yearly utility reconciliation' from last October.

Here's the problem. I paid ALL of that.

I moved in to this SFH in Washington State on September 1st, 2016 with a 2 year lease (non-notarized) and on that day, paid first & last and a deposit. I then informed my work HR team to split my direct deposit payroll so the landlord would get 50% rent payments (thus all of October rent 2016 was paid well prior to October 1st) and I continued to pay rent via payroll direct deposit until my company said I could only have one direct deposit as of November 1st, 2017. The landlord even got my $1000 Christmas bonus in 2016.

Part of my rent payment is a fee for utilities. However, there were overages. I paid all of those last October after a bit of Excel work to prorate (our utility bills in 2 month increments).

So, all rent was paid well in advance up until this last December 2017. November 2017 rent was paid by October 20th, then HR stopped the payments out of my payroll. On December 5th, 2017 I deposited the full rent amount for December 2017 rent into my landlords account and I have the cash advance and deposit receipts. Rent for January 2018 was paid via check through my bank and was initiated on December 20th (to give Simple plenty of time to print and mail to Arizona).

So, do I get a lawyer? Do I try to verify with my bank that the Jan 2018 check was cashed? Do I speak to my landlord to try and convince him that I'm not late?

This is a total shock, the last email I got from him he asked if I wanted to terminate early as he wants to 'do some major repairs and upgrades' and I'm just short circuiting here.

I strive to be a good tenant. I work from home, I'm quiet and I pay my bills. What would you do?

Have you talked to the Landlord yet? If you have all the evidence, why not call them and share that with them? Perhaps the bank dumped the funds in the wrong account? Maybe the Landlord is looking in the wrong account? Maybe you wrote the account number wrong on the deposit slip? Maybe the Landlord has bad memory and filed the notice against you by accident and it was intended for another tenant?

It seems silly to draw battle lines before even talking with the Landlord to find why they filed notice.

Nathan, you're right of course. He had emailed me a few months ago stating I was late on rent and I showed him all of my proof at that time and he responded 'thank you for the clarification' and I thought that was the end of it. I should have mentioned that, sorry.

@Cheryl Allin , it looks like you changed how you paid rent several times.  Landlords are not used to that.  I have had that happen to me before.  First you made 2 payments per month, then 1, then you did a bank deposit into his account, then you did a check next time.  He probably did not realize you switched payment methods.

As you 'noted', any real property agreement longer than 12 months in WA needs to be notarized to even be valid. Shows us who we may be dealing with right off.

Anywho- I'd gather all my proofs of payments made and not worry too much about it as far as getting booted. You seem to be in the right and I believe you. Non paying turds don't find BP for guidance.

Was a lawyer noted on the 3day? Tell them what's  going on as well. Was it served properly, with one mailed to you as well? If not served exactly right, a WA judge will throw it out in 2 seconds.

We may have a shady LL looking to sell their house.  I'd email him what you said here and try not to lose any sleep over it. Hopefully it was an honest mistake on his part, but I have my doubts. 

Yes, it's been wonky with the payments. All was terrific the first year as my payroll let me pay him directly. You see, when I moved in on Sep 1st 2016 I paid first months, last and the deposit then 2 weeks later, payroll sent him the first part of Oct 2016's rent and the 2nd half occured Oct 30th. So, for the first year I was paying in advance. However, on the Excel sheet he seemed to think that mid-Sept payment was for Sept so he's had his figures off that entire year and he ignored the Christmas bonus and the 'extra' June payment (due to how my payroll worked). When the utility reconciliation came up, he thought I was $242 late but I was actually $242 ahead. Add the extra June payment and when the extra utilities were due, I was now $955.13 ahead.

He wanted me to pay for the full utility bill that covered July 18 - Sep 19 2016 and I prorated that. His 'late utility' figure corresponds to his bad math. :sigh:

I wish I had a better, more consistent way to pay him as I was used to the auto-payroll method so it took me a couple of months to work it out. I prefer to pay it asap so I don't have to stress about rent looming.

Ah, no lawyer noted but it was served. I was asleep and woke to a banging on my door and I thought my daughter had locked herself out. He was a nice gentleman. <grin> I'll have to trudge out in the rain to the mailbox to see if it was mailed as well.

The market here is going insane, so the price point on this; I had to jump on this rental. He must realize he could get significantly more rent than what I pay now. I'm stridently saving to purchase a duplex to owner-occupy but I'm not quite ready to pull the trigger yet! :sigh: Any great Tacoma agent want to work with me? 

I've worked as a Virtual Assistant for Real Estate for nearly 2 decades now so I crunch numbers with the best of them and I'm diligent about paying responsibly. It's just disheartening, trying to be a terrific tenant and treating this home the way I'd want my investment treated.

Interesting how each states laws are different. Not sure how Washington works but in California a lease greater then 1 year needs to be written. Even if I had a verbal contract for a 1 year lease I couldn't just kick out the tenant. I would have to go through the proper procedures because the tenant has basic rights I would have to respect. I would suggest you seek legal council and build a case. If he takes you to court I would show the proof (in court) and counter sue him. I wouldn't talk to him about my evidence so he wouldn't be prepared if he took you to court. Talk to him respectfully but don't show him your cards. You have basic rights that need to be respected!

Most most landlords when the rent is late do not first serve some kind of a notice with a process server. They call the tenant and ask what's going on with the rent.  It's a lot easier to make a phone call and remind someone that the rent is due then it is to pay a process server to serve some kind of a notice.

This Behavior suggest to me the landlord wants you to move out and is trying to play games. I very much doubt that he's willing to go to court because he will likely lose. It also just doesn't make a lot of sense to spend money and go to court to kick out someone who's been Faithfully paying rent.

I suggest that you call the landlord and ask him what's going on.  Provide him with written proof of your payments and explain that you are not behind on your rent. If your landlord has two neurons firing in concert then this will be the end of it. If, however, your landlord is crazy, you'll probably have to show these to a judge.

I'll keep you all posted on how this progresses. Thank you, everyone so much for talking me off the ledge. <grin> I sent a detailed email with screenshots from my bank, all the facts and figures and will call him to follow up. Hopefully we'll work it out and I'll see if he wants me out that bad perhaps he can give me cash for keys.

Thanks again, you all are the best & brightest!

Talk to an attorney who specializes in this type of work. Some landlords/managers try to be bullies until they hear the words,”my attorney “

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