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Paying your rent in cash

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Your rent is one of your biggest monthly costs, so it’s important you know the payment is being handled safely and securely – and that it gets paid on time.

There are a number of ways to pay rent to a landlord. Those without a bank account might consider paying rent for a house or apartment with cash in hand. Check with your landlord or in your rental agreement to find out if payment in cash is accepted.

Ways to pay

If your landlord is happy to accept payments in cash, there are a number of ways you can pay your rent without using checks or, a credit or debit card.

  • Cash in hand. The simplest method is to hand over cash to your landlord. Although, check below for things to look out for.
  • Money order. It’s easy to pay your rent or a deposit for a new home using a money order. These can be bought at Money Services. Each Western Union money order can be purchased for any amount up to $1,000 in value in most locations. (Fees and limits vary by state, so be sure to check your local Money Services associate to check fees and limits.) If you need higher values, simply purchase more. The benefit of these is that you can track them, so you’ll know when your rent is paid. Unlike checks, there’s no risk of them bouncing either. Fees start from just 69₵ with a Shopper’s Card*.
Pile of US dollar bills
  • Bill pay service. At Money Services, we have two rental billers – PayLease and Resident EMoneyOrder who can turn your cash payment into electronic payment. It’s easy to pay your bills using these billers – simply bring along your account number, proof of ID and the amount to cover the rent and fees, and our friendly in store associates can help you pay your rent.

*Fees and limits vary by state. Check your local store for details.

What to watch out for when paying rent in cash

Like any other form of payment, you need to keep good records when paying your rent in cash. These are a few key areas to watch out for:

  • Get a receipt. If you’re paying your rent cash in hand, make sure you get a receipt. Unlike money orders or bill payments, cash in hand transactions cannot be traced. This means a receipt is vital for both your records and in case there’s a dispute over payment. The format of the rental receipt should include details of the address, tenant, landlord or agent, amount due, and the period it covers. It should also be signed by both you and the landlord. If you paid your rent in cash without a receipt, then you’ll have no proof that you’ve actually paid it.
  • Check your rental agreement. Don’t just assume you can pay in cash – be sure to check your rental agreement first. Quite often a rental lease agreement will state that payment is due in the form of a personal check, cashier’s check or money order made out to the landlord. If you need to pay in cash, get this written into the agreement.
  • Don’t mail the cash. Not everyone lives near their landlord or leasing agent. In these situations, it can be tempting to mail the cash. But this is not recommended. Cash can get lost in the postal service and is hard to track down or retrieve. If you do need to mail it, use a check or money order as these can be traced and cancelled if lost.
  • Only hand your cash to your landlord or property manager. If you’re using cash, then make sure the person you hand it to is either the landlord, agent or an approved third party. Don’t hand it to anyone claiming to be from the rental agency that you’re not familiar with or feel suspicious of, as it could be a scam. Instead, call the agency yourself (using a number you’ve sourced) to check their credentials.

Can my landlord make me pay rent in cash?

In many states, landlords cannot force you to pay in cash. Usually, they will only ask you to pay in cash if you’ve had a number of bounced checks or have not transferred the money in time and are in arrears.

If your landlord does ask you to pay cash and you don’t want to, ask them why the change and how it’ll work. Then suggest maybe a middle ground like a money order, which can’t bounce and are traceable.

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