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If Tenant Pays in Cash, Landlord Should Offer a Receipt

March 18, 2001|From Project Sentinel

Question: My tenant wants to pay her rent each month in cash, which is fine with me. However, she wants me to give her a receipt. Do I have to give her a receipt just because she pays cash?

Answer: Yes. California Civil Procedure Code 2075 states: "Whoever pays money, or delivers an instrument or property, is entitled to a receipt therefore from the person to whom the payment or delivery is made, and may demand a proper signature to such receipt as a condition of the payment or delivery."

Providing a receipt will help the two of you accurately document and track each rent payment. Even if providing a receipt was not required by code, it is a good business procedure to adopt.

In-Resident Manager Wants Blank Checks

Q: Each month when I pay the rent, the in-resident manager requires me to fill in only the rent amount and leave the "pay to" portion blank on the check. I think this is a bad idea, not only for me but for her. Any suggestions on what I can do?

A: Many problems could arise from submitting a signed rent check and not entering an appropriate "pay to" name. This could leave you without valid proof of payment, and if the check was lost or stolen, anyone could fill in the "pay to" portion.

Discuss your concerns with the manager, and if she still insists on this method of payment, you may want to notify the property owner in writing that you will be entering his or her name in the "pay to" section of your rent check.

In addition, you should ask for a rental receipt in exchange for this type of check-writing requirement.

Credit Report Requires Social Security Number

Q: With the large amount of identity theft that is prevalent in my area, I'm very reluctant to reveal my Social Security number to prospective landlords. Do I have to give out my number?

A: Identity theft can certainly be a problem and you are wise to be cautious. Landlords use rental and credit histories as well as income to financially qualify or disqualify prospective tenants.

In screening tenants, most landlords review credit reports that are requested by Social Security number.

You may explain your concerns to prospective landlords in hopes of convincing them to accept other financial information in place of a credit report.

For example, you could offer bank statements, credit card accounts, income tax returns, wage statements and personal references.

However, if the prospective landlords are not willing to accept alternative financial information without a credit report, they can refuse to consider your rental application.

References Available for New Landlords

Q: As a new, inexperienced landlord I want to start out on the right foot with my tenants.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can become familiar with the rules and regulations of being a landlord?

A: There are many resources available to help you become an educated and informed landlord.

Some of the most useful information is published by Nolo Press.

Its publications, "The Landlord's Law Books," Vols. 1 and 2, as well as "Tenant's Rights" can be ordered by calling (800) 992-6656 or may be obtained from a local bookstore or stationery outlet.

You can also review or use these books at your local library.

For more assistance, contact your local housing program.

*

This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA. 94087, but cannot be answered individually.

For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Institute or Fair Housing Foundation office in your area:

Bellflower: (562) 901-0808.

Carson: (888) 777-4087.

El Monte: (626) 579-6868.

Hawthorne: (310) 474-1667.

Lancaster: (888) 777-4087.

Long Beach: (562) 901-0808.

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211.

Redondo Beach: (888) 777-4087.

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185.

South-Central Los Angeles: (213) 295-3302.

Westside Los Angeles: (310) 474-1667.

Orange County: (714) 569-0828.

San Bernardino County: (909) 884-8056.

San Diego County: (619) 699-5888.

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288.

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