Westchester, NY Landlord & Small Business Law Blog

Monday, December 30, 2013

Make Sure You Are Paid Before Occupancy by Tenant

Recently I have had a number of new eviction matters where the tenant gave the landlord a bad check for the security deposit and first month's rent.  The checks were written on closed accounts and of course, the tenant did not make good on the bad check.  The tenant had to be evicted causing my client to lose rent and to have to pay me for the eviction.

Although, what the tenant did was a crime in New York, the police had no interest in prosecuting the tenant because "it is a civil matter."  Unfortunately, landlords are treated differently from retain establishments.  If a customer gave a store a check from a closed account and received merchandise in exchange, the police would prosecute.  But when it's a tenant, they won't prosecute.

As a landlord you MUST make sure that you get paid by the tenant before the tenant moves in.  As soon as the tenant moves in, even if he/she gave you a bad check, you have to go through the eviction process to get the tenant out of the premises.  The best way to make sure you get paid is to require the tenant to give you the security deposit and first month's rent in cash.  Under New York State law you are required to give the tenant a receipt for the cash, but that's easy to do.  If the tenant wants to give you a check and tells you that he cannot give you cash do not rent the apartment to him/her.  Anyone who has the money in a checking account to give you a good check can get the cash out of the account. 

If you accept the tenant's check you will not know for several days whether it will clear.  By that time it is too late.  You've lost the rent and have incurred the expense of an eviction.

Glen P. Malia


Malia Law, LLC located in Cortlandt Manor, NY represents Landlords/Tenants throughout Westchester County, Putnam County and Southern Dutchess County, NY.

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