If you plan to rent housing in the Pasadena area, there are a number of things you should know about paying your rent and your responsibilities before you sign a lease. Although there may specific clauses in your lease (which you should read very carefully before you sign it), these are some basic tips provided by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Paying Your Rent
The Due Date
In most cases your rent is due on the first day of each rental period, in most cases, this is the first day of each month. However, your lease may specify a different date, especially if you are living with a month-to-month lease rather than a long term one. Of course, your lease must also specify to whom you must pay your rent, and if personal delivery is not possible and address to which you can mail your payment. It is also your responsibility to ensure your payment arrives on time, you should use certified mail so that you have proof that it has been delivered.
Should You Pay with Cash or a Check?
In most cases, your landlord or their agent cannot require you to pay your rent in cash. The only variation to this is if you have had a check returned for insufficient funds in the last three months or you have stopped payment for any reason. However, before your landlord can require you to start paying your rent in cash, he or his agent must provide you with a written notice that your check was returned and that you now have to start paying in cash for a specified amount of time.
However, your landlord cannot require you to pay in cash if it has been more than three months since the problem with your check occurred. At the same time, he must attach a copy of the returned check to the notice and if this problem affects your lease, he must provide you with sufficient advance notice of any changes.
What about a Receipt?
If you decide to pay your rent in cash or with a money order, it is your responsibility to obtain a receipt. The receipt should be signed and dated by either the landlord or his/her agent. You should get a receipt each time you pay your rent. If you use a personal check to pay your rent, the check acts as a receipt. Be sure to keep all receipts or canceled checks so that you have proof of payment in the event there are any disputes.
About Those Other Fees
As you might guess, your landlord is within his or her rights to assess a late fee in the event you are late making your rent payment. However, in order for him to do so, the late fee amount and when it will be assessed must be laid out in your lease. Your landlord can also legally choose to charge a fee for any returned checks (this includes NSF (insufficient funds) and stop-payment checks. Again, any fee for returned checks must also be outlined in your lease.
Be sure you know exactly what your lease has to say about paying your rent and any associated fees before you sign it. This can help you avoid making costly mistakes or violating your lease that can end up with your being evicted.