Am I legally liable to my landlord who “found” an old, uncashed rent check?

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Am I legally liable to my landlord who “found” an old, uncashed rent check?

About 2 weeks after I handed my landlord the rent check 3 months ago I asked him if he had cashed the check (which, in hindsight, he had not cashed). He said that he did cash it. Now he said he found it and wants to cash it and, of course, I don’t have that money on hand. My argument is that he said he cashed it and so should not be able to cash it a second time.

Asked on January 2, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

But he is NOT cashing it a second time--he did not actually cash it the first time, from what you write. The landlord is entitled to his rent, and is entitled also by law to cash a check you gave him. The fact that he was mistaken about when he cashed it in no way impacts those rights. He may cash it immediately: it was your responsibility to make sure there remained enough money in your account to cover it. (And note: you could have easily verified whether or not it had been cashed through your bank or even by your regular account statements, so you should have know whether the funds had been taken out yet.)

On the other hand, if the landord did previously cash it, however--e.g. by an electronic or virtual submission to the bank--and is now actually cashing the same check a second time, that is illegal, and you could sue the landlord to recover any money and possibly even report him to the police. Again, you can easily determine if this is the case through your bank.


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