WWYD: I Paid My Rent, I Swear
Today on “WWYD,” paying your rent, but still seeing the money in your account:
SO. I pay my rent with a check, which I give to the super, who puts them all in an envelope and sends them over to the management office which is another part of town, and they cash them. Usually, they’re pretty quick, although they were stressfully not quick with my deposit (though that is a completely different story), and it usually comes out of my account the next day or within the week. But this month, 10 days pass, and it still hasn’t come out of my account. I’m just about to call and ask what’s up when I get a notice saying my rent is late.
I run into the super the next day and she’s like, “I remember getting your check, and they do this all the time, and I’m sure it’s fine.” So I call the management office, and they tell me their records show I paid on March 1st. I tell them that it hasn’t come out of my account, and the woman at the management office says, “Well, as far as we know, you paid—you’ll have to phone your bank.” I hate using the phone, so I checked my online banking instead, and there is no record of a check coming out of my account on that day at all.
I ran into the super again and told her what happened, because I had given her another check to send them, and she said, “Well, if they said you’ve paid, you’ve paid!”
So my question is, do I have to convince them that I have not paid, or assume some mysterious benefactor has paid it for me? Have I done my due diligence already by telling them it didn’t come out on my end? Because an extra month’s rent in my account would not be unappreciated. — M.
I think the confusing part of this question for me is that you were told by the rental management office that you paid your rent on March 1st, yet you still received a notice from them saying that your rent is late. I would have asked the woman at the management office, “If your records show that I paid on March 1st, why did I receive a notice saying that my rent is late?” There had to be some kind of mixup this month for that to happen.
I know you said you hate getting on the phone, but I’d call up the bank and ask them if the check has been processed, or if there might be a hold on it for any reason. There is probably not a mysterious benefactor at work here. The management office may have received your check, but misplaced it before they could cash it—which could mean they could find it soon and take it to the bank. I would count that rent money in your bank account as good as cashed for now. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how my management company mistakenly sent me a notice saying that I had forgotten to pay rent one month two years ago. They were wrong, but this goes to show you that management companies can make mistakes, and that they’re also willing to pursue payments months and years from now if they think they didn’t get paid.
If having money in your account that you know you can’t spend really bothers you, you could talk to the management office again, lay out the explanation, tell them that you’d like to give them a new check to process if they agree to allow you to call your bank and make a “stop payment” request on the original check that for some reason hasn’t been cashed. If this is an option, I’d also ask if the management company is willing to pay for the stop payment fee, which can be around $20 or more. You’ve done what you’ve could so far—if this is a mistake on their part, they should pay the fee for you.