The Common Law: Cash Rental Payments and Flaky Roommates
Cash Rental Payments and Flaky Roommates
By Luke Ellis, Fri., Sept. 7, 2012
My landlord refused my cash payment and made me pay with a check. Does my landlord have the right to refuse to accept cash as my rent payment?
It depends on the terms of your lease agreement. As a general rule, Texas law requires a landlord to accept a tenant's timely cash rental payment unless the written lease between the landlord and tenant specifically states that the rental payment must be made by some other means than cash. Assuming your lease does not prohibit you from paying in cash, Texas law requires your landlord to do several things in order to have a record of the transaction. First, any landlord who receives a cash rental payment must provide the tenant with a written receipt. Second, the landlord must enter the payment date and amount in a record book maintained by the landlord. A tenant may file suit against the landlord requiring compliance with the law if the landlord refuses to give the tenant a written receipt for cash payment. Nonetheless, paying your landlord with a check or other traceable means is most likely in your best interests because there will be a clear record of your payment.
My roommate moved out of the house we rented this summer and now refuses to pay her share of the rent. We both signed the lease, but now the landlord wants me to pay the entire rent. Can I really be forced to pay all of the rent?
It depends on your lease, but most likely the answer is yes. A landlord can often hold a tenant responsible for the entire amount of the rent because, as a general rule, by signing the lease the tenant agrees to be responsible for the entire rental payment. This is one reason why landlords usually encourage as many people as possible to sign the lease: It gives them more options to recover unpaid rent. You should look at your lease to see if it contains a clause stating that you are only responsible for partial payment of the rental amount; however, these clauses are rare. If you do pay all the rent, you could consider asserting a separate claim against the roommate who moved out to recover her share of the rent. Another practical option is to try to find another roommate (subject to the landlord's consent). The moral of this question is clear: Choose your roommates with caution when signing a lease!
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Marrs, Ellis & Hodge LLP, www.mehlaw.com.
The material in this column is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute, nor is it a substitute for, legal advice. For advice on your specific facts and circumstances, consult a licensed attorney. You may wish to contact the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, a non-profit public service of the Austin Bar Association, at 512-472-8303 or www.austinlrs.com.