Paying your rent in full and on time is a fundamental requirement of an apartment lease. To avoid problems, not only do you need to be in a position to afford your rent, but you also should be aware of basic issues involved with making your monthly payments.
The last thing you want is to get a notice from your landlord that you're in arrears even though you thought you paid what you owed.
Rent Payment Basics
Here's what you need to know about rent payments to avoid misunderstandings and disputes with your landlord that could lead to late charges or even put your tenancy at risk:
- Choosing a rent payment method. Most apartment tenants pay their monthly rent by check. But more landlords are accepting rent payments by credit card, along with the ability to process transactions online. Switching from check to credit card payments has its advantages, but sticking to checks might still be best for you. Weigh the pros and cons of credit card rent payments and decide for yourself.
Many tenants choose to pay their rent by cash. If you're thinking of paying cash, whether you plan to do it routinely or just every so often, be aware of the possible pitfalls so you can avoid trouble with your landlord that may put your tenancy at risk.
- Splitting rent with roommates. If you have one or more roommates, chances are you've come to some agreement about splitting the rent. You might split rent equally among your roommates, or come up with a more equitable solution for your situation. For instance, if you share a two-bedroom apartment with someone, you might agree it's only fair that you pay more if you've got the bigger room.
Whatever arrangement you work out with your roommates, it's important to get a formal commitment in writing. Also, keep in mind that your landlord doesn't care how roommates choose to split their rent. If a landlord doesn't get the full amount of rent due even if you paid your share, you could still face eviction.
- Prorating your rent. If your lease begins in the middle of the month, chances are your landlord will want to prorate the rent for the partial month. For instance, if you're planning on signing a one-year lease to take effect before the first of the month, your lease term would technically last for just over 12 months. You would pay a "prorated rent" for those first days or weeks, and then the full month's rent would be due on the first of each month. Learn more about when to prorate rent and also how to prorate rent, so you can be sure your landlord performs the calculations correctly.
- Making rent payments. It's normally best to deliver your rent payments in the manner in which your lease or landlord directs. For example, you might mail your rent check to a certain person's attention at a management company, pay online using a secure Web site, or walk the rent payment down the hallway to deliver to your landlord yourself. If you try going a different route or make a mistake with an address, your rent might not arrive on time or even get lost.
If you're splitting the rent with roommates and paying by check, one of you can send the full payment each month to the landlord (and get reimbursed by the other roommates). Or, you can send checks from each roommate in one envelope, making sure the sum is equal to the total amount of rent due.
If you're subletting your apartment, it's best to send your monthly rent payments to the tenant (or sub-lessor), rather than to the actual landlord.