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Everything You Need to Know About Paying Rent

Your biggest responsibility as a tenant is paying the rent each month. You'll need to understand your landlord’s payment preferences and any rules about rent increases and late fees.


Your first and foremost responsibility as a tenant is to pay the rent on time every month. This is obvious stuff, but if you're a first-time renter you might have no idea where, when, and how often to pay rent. And even if it's not your first time around the block, you should know your rights—like when a rent increase is illegal, or when it's appropriate to withhold rent for repairs.

When do I pay rent?

The first thing to know is that you’ll be asked to pay the first month of rent and the security deposit when you sign a lease. After that, you'll be expected to get the rent to your landlord by the first of every month. If you mail your rent check to your landlord, you'll be expected to send it early enough that it arrives by the due date. You can use this USPS service standards map to get an estimate of how long it'll take your rent check to be delivered by mail.

Should I pay rent with a check, or do it online?

You need to touch base with your landlord to see what they prefer. About half of renters in the U.S. pay rent with a check. The other half pay with some kind of online tool. If your landlord accepts online rent payments, then they're using a software platform for landlords like RentCafe, Clickpay, Yapstone, Appfolio, Realpage, Yardi, or Entrata. They'll send you a link as soon as your lease is signed. Then, you’ll have a choice if you want to pay using ACH payments, a debit card, or a credit card.

If I pay my rent late, will I get charged a late fee?

In most cases, yes. Read your lease carefully to understand your landlord's specific guidelines around late fees for rent. In some states, the fee they can charge is capped by law. Other states require landlords to offer a grace period of several days before they can charge a fee. If you don’t live in one of these places, you need to rely on what it says in your lease agreement.

Is it safe to pay my rent with Venmo or PayPal?

Generally, it’s best to avoid Venmo and other cash-sharing apps like PayPal and Cash App when paying rent. Some apps require you to pay an additional fee for buyer protection in the case of a scam or a lost payment, while others don't offer buyer protection at all.

Unless there is a clause in your lease explicitly stating this to be the case, it's never legal for a landlord to raise the rent during a lease term. That being said, you can probably expect your rent to increase when your lease comes up for renewal. If you live in an area with rent control, then there may be rules about how much it can go up. Otherwise, your landlord can hike the rent as much as they want.

If your landlord isn't keeping up their end of the bargain, then you might decide to withhold rent or make repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent.

You might also end up paying less rent if you can convince your landlord to lower your rent for one of two reasons: there’s been a major change in the quality of your rental or you’ve made major improvements of your own to the rental. This is called a rent abatement.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.


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