AgentRentals

Backlash grows over online rent payments

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Q: Our landlord has instituted a policy of online rent payments only, using a bill-paying service on the Internet. We object to this, as we don't have a computer at home and would rather use a check. Can we refuse to go along with the new policy? --Marvin and Gayle D. A: If you refuse to pay rent online and the landlord rejects your check, you may get hit with an eviction lawsuit for nonpayment of rent. But if you are renting with a fixed-term lease, your landlord's unilateral change in an important term (how rent is paid) would probably be ruled illegal by a judge. The essence of a lease is that its terms remain in place until it expires or both parties agree to make a change. On the other hand, if you're renting month to month, the landlord can announce a change of terms with proper notice (30 days in most states). After that, you'd be obligated to pay online. Or would you? Perhaps it's worth asking why the landlord is instituting this change. Maybe it's to cut down on ad...