Can Tenants be Forced to Pay Rent Online?

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on March 7, 2012 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits, Rents and Deposits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screening, prescreening, tenant credit checkCountless landlords and tenants enjoy the convenience of online rent payment. Whether a tenant sets it up through a bank’s online bill pay system, or the landlord offers a web-based rent payment service, it’s becoming a more common way to complete this common transaction.

But what about tenants who prefer not to—or cannot—use online rent payment? Can they be forced to do so? One property management group in Los Angeles will soon find out. Residents of Woodlake Manor Apartments are suing the landlord, Jones & Jones Management Group, Inc. over a new requirement that every tenant make rent payments online.

Some, like 86 year-old Margaret Beavers, have no interest in paying rent online. She has lived in the building since 1963 and in her own words, is “computer illiterate.” She and other tenants fear that refusing to cooperate with the new requirement leaves then vulnerable to eviction. They claim that the company’s new rule is a cover-up for an attempt to evict the low-income, elderly residents who fall under rent-stabilization laws. An attorney for the property owner said the claims were “completely unfounded.”

The property owner stated that their objective was to “go green” and make rent payment easier for tenants. Opponents say they are eager to shed low-income residents in favor of higher-income tenants. A California state senator who filed a bill banning the requirement of online rent payment said that not everyone has a computer, and even those who do may not want to pay bills online for security reasons. The legislation is pending.

Jones & Jones owns 38 buildings throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four residents, all over age 62. An attorney who represents landlords pointed out that the state of California has no right to ban online-only rent payment requirements by landlords—especially when California requires online tax payments.

Do you offer online rent payment to your tenants? If so, is it required, or are you flexible about whether tenants must pay online?

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