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Collecting Rent: When, Where and How

When It’s Due
In every state of the union, you have the right to specify exactly when the rent is due. Whether it’s on the first day of the month, last day of the month or any day in between, this is your call and the important thing is just to make sure it’s clearly spelled out in your lease agreement. Failing to give an actual day could lead to serious problems and, believe it or not, there are plenty of landlords that take a lackadaisical approach and find themselves short a month or two (there have even been stories of more than six months – amazing, but disappointingly true). You will hear repeatedly on that handshakes and casual agreements are shunned like the scarlet letter.

Where It’s Due
As if specifying when the rent was due wasn’t enough, you also need to instruct the tenant (in writing) where the rent must be paid. If you have a management office, great! If not, then do not specify your home address. This was a topic touched on before – never lead a tenant to your home for reasons that are too many to mention.

If you do not have a commercial location for doing business, then set up a private mail box (known as a PMB) at any shipping center such as a UPS store – or get an official mail box at your local post office. This is an absolute necessity for any individual landlord for accepting rental payments, as well as any official correspondence that should take place between you and your tenant (e.g., repair requests, notices and complaints).

How It’s Due
Believe it or not, you can actually dictate the manner of payment you are willing to accept. This could be Visa, MasterCard, Personal Check, Money Order, Cashiers Check or even cold hard cash. Obviously, the more difficult you make the manner of payment, the smaller the tenant litter becomes. While this book does not necessarily advocate opening your door to credit cards (which can easily be disputed and reversed by the tenant – known as a chargeback), it is suggested that you accept personal checks, but stipulate that if the personal check should be returned by the tenant’s bank on more than two separate occasions, money orders and cashiers checks will only be accepted from that point on.