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Can you pay rent with cash?

Can You Pay Rent With Cash

Most landlords will usually accept rent payments in various forms, including cash. However, if you do pay your rent in cash it’s important to keep a record so you have proof of making your due payments on time. 

Renting can help you build credit, save money, and gain independence. For most tenants the first of the month means that rent is due.  And depending on your job, cash may be the most convenient way to pay rent. But you may be wondering whether that is allowed. You may be able to pay your rent in cash. It really depends on your rental agreement and your landlord, property manager, or rental management company. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 22% of people pay their rent in cash.1 

Below is everything you need to know about paying rent with cash and other alternative methods to make those rental payments every month. 

Will My Landlord Allow Me To Pay Rent in Cash?

As a renter, it will be important to know that there are laws and regulations both on a federal and state level. When it comes to a rent payment in general, landlords may accept any kind of legal tender, for example, a check, cash money order, or direct deposit. However, it is up to them what type of payment they prefer to accept for rent payments. 

Your specific regulations will be within your lease agreement. Along with information on rent amount, due dates, deposits, and move-in dates, it will also have information on how you can make your rent payments. Some landlords won’t allow a cash payment. If cash is not listed as an accepted payment method on your rental agreement, you can talk to your landlord about whether that is possible. 

So Should You Pay Rent in Cash if You Can?

There are definitely some downsides to paying for your rent in cash, so even if you can, you should think twice about it. Here are some things that you should absolutely ensure you do if you pay rent in cash: 

Get a Receipt or Some Kind of Paper Trail

Getting a receipt or keeping some sort of paper trail is essential when paying your rent in cash. You can use online receipt forms if your landlord does not provide one for you. With a paper trail, you can be assured that you have documentation that proves that you made your rent payments if a rent dispute comes up. 

Keep Your Cash Safe Before it Gets to Your Landlord! 

Something you may not think about is the safety of your cash before you pay rent. Your rent payment will likely be at least a few hundred dollars, and carrying around that cash can be risky. If you lose any of it, you may not be able to pay rent which could lead to an even higher cost or, even worse, lead to eviction. 

Be Weary of Cash Rent Scams, Especially With Cash Payments

Most rental scams occur with prospective renters looking for a new place. This is another thing to keep in mind when paying rent money in cash. Because cash usually doesn’t involve a paper trail, scammers can easily take advantage of prospective tenants. A few red flags include: 

Red FlagsDescription
Not wanting to meet in personThe landlord or agent avoids in-person meetings, which can be a potential sign of a fraudulent or untrustworthy rental situation.
Asking for a deposit before a contract is signedRequesting a deposit or the first month’s rent before signing a rental contract could indicate a potential scam or unscrupulous practices.
Lack of pre-screenings or application processAbsence of proper pre-screenings or an application process may suggest a lack of due diligence and a higher risk of potential issues in the rental arrangement.
Unrealistically low monthly rentA monthly rent that seems too good to be true might be a red flag for a scam or an attempt to lure unsuspecting tenants into a fraudulent scheme.

To protect yourself from these scams, make sure you meet your landlord in person, thoroughly vet the rental listing, and see the property in person. 

Other Ways of Paying Rent

For all the reasons listed above, cash payments are not recommended for rent. If your landlord is not requiring cash payments, you should definitely consider a different payment method. The good news is that there are many other alternatives you can use which make paying rent fast, safe, and accessible. Here are some other options to cash payments when taking care of your monthly rent: 

A Money Order 

Money orders are a great way to use cash without actually having to carry it all around. It looks and works like a check, and you can get money orders at several places like a bank, credit union, retailers, and even at the post office. You will need to add some personal information about yourself and your landlord or property management company to your money order. Money orders can actually be safer than a personal check because they don’t have your bank account and routing number on them. So money orders are definitely an alternative!

Completing an Online Payment 

Another alternative to paying rent in cash is through an online payment. In most cases, you can make your rent payment through an online payment portal or an app. Before you make an online payment, you should trust the website or app that you use. Here are some different ways to make online payments:

Payments Through a Debit Card Linked to a Bank Account 

You can use your debit card to make online payments which will come out straight from your checking account.  

Payments Straight From a Bank Account (A Checking Account or Savings Account)

Sometimes some online portals won’t allow for debit card use. Instead, they will ask for your checking account number and routing number. 

A Credit Card 

You may think about using a credit card for rent when you need some assistance to make a rent payment. Credit cards can definitely be more convenient than loan options like payday loans. However, many landlords and property management companies will not allow for payments through a credit card. Still, there are third-party services that will enable you to do so. There will be a transaction fee associated with this option. 

A Cashier’s Check

Cashier’s checks are backed and issued by banks or other financial institutions. They are often the safest option when paying for anything. Unlike a personal check, the money is guaranteed by a bank/financial institution rather than the person paying. 

Personal Check

Personal checks are the kinds of checks you get from a bank, credit union, or other depository institution with which you have a checking account. It will have your personal information, including information about your checking account. You can mail or hand a check over in person. 

FAQS

What should I do if my landlord insists on cash payments for rent?

If your landlord insists on cash payments, ensure you receive a signed receipt for each payment. It’s also advisable to keep a personal record of these transactions for your financial records.

How can I prove my rent payments if I pay in cash and need to show a payment history for credit or rental applications?

Always obtain a receipt from your landlord for each cash payment. Keep these receipts organized and accessible, as they serve as proof of payment for credit or rental applications.

Are there any legal protections for tenants who pay rent in cash?

Tenants who pay rent in cash are protected under the same rental laws as those who use other payment methods. However, it’s crucial to have a paper trail (like receipts) to prove payment in case of disputes.

What are the risks of paying cash rent payments regarding personal safety and financial security?

Cash rent payments have risks such as theft or loss of money before it reaches the landlord. There’s also a risk of disputes over payment if there’s no receipt, bank account statement, or paper trail with your rent payment or payments

Can paying rent in cash negatively impact my credit score?

Rent payment in cash itself does not impact your credit score. However, without a paper trail, this payment method is typically not reported to credit bureaus and thus doesn’t contribute to building your credit history. Talk to your landlord/property manager or property management company to ask about getting your rent payments reported. You can also look at third-party services to do that for you.

Is it common for landlords to offer discounts for rent payments made in cash?

Some landlords may offer discounts for cash payments as it ensures immediate funds and reduces transaction fees. However, this practice varies and is not universally common.

CreditNinja’s Thoughts on Paying Rent in Cash

Although you may be able to pay rent in cash, it may not be the best idea! All kinds of risks come with using cash, including losing money and the lack of a paper trail. There are alternatives to cash payments for rent that are as easy and fast as cash but much safer.  

Looking for more information on paying rent, handling your finances, getting bad credit loans, paying off installment loans,  and more? Great news! CreditNinja has an entire section on our website dedicated to providing users with financial resources and tools absolutely free! Head on over to the CreditNinja blog dojo to get more information, available to everybody 24/7.

References: 

  1. How Do People Pay Rent? | Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

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