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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 9850
Experience:  Commercial and residential leases in NY & NJ & US
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Does a landlord in State have to provide an option to pay

Customer Question

Does a landlord in Washington State have to provide an option to pay rent other than online, which involves extra fees? If so, where can I get a written statement of this?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 9 months ago.

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for.

Why does payment online cost you a fee? How much is the fee? In the lease where does it say the rent is to be paid?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
This is a brand new landlord. The office manager wants us to pay the rent online, (though the rental office is a mere 20 feet away) so she doesn't have to make a trip to the bank. The fee is $2.75 per $100 of rent. Our rent is $850.00 per month. I am at the library and don't have a copy of the lease from the previous landlord. The new landlord says he will honor our lease, whch is up in October 2016.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 9 months ago.

First your rights are governed by your existing lease. You would only be obligated to pay at the place stated in the lease agreement. The landlord cannot effectively unilaterally modify the lease agreement to require an online payment especially if it is going to cost you money to pay. Until you sign a new lease you cannot be required to pay online.

A different question arises with respect to a new lease agreement that contains such a provision. Then a provision requiring payment in other than cash might be permitted but I do not think payments could be restricted to just online. There is an implication, although not an express provision, that a landlord would have to accept a payment in cash. RCW 59.18.063 provides that a landlord must provide a written receipt for rent payments in cash. Given that provision I do not think a landlord could reject a payment in cash. Further, currency is legal tender for all debts public and private under federal law. That could be another basis for prohibiting the type of restriction your landlord is seeking. At this time I could not find case law on the issue in Washington but on balance I do not think the landlord can require you to only pay online.

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