Cana landlord decide in what order a tenant must pay rent and utilities?

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Cana landlord decide in what order a tenant must pay rent and utilities?

I went to my apartment complex’s office and paid my rent. I get my water and gas bill in the mail and must pay through the complex. I was not able to pay the water and gas bills when I paid my rent and informed them that I would be a week late in paying them. The next week when I went to go pay for my utilities they informed me that that I was a week late on the full rent amount. I said no, I paid on the first of the month. They told me that that check went to the utilities and then to rent even though the check said for rent. I paid that amount. Now I get a notice for $10. Can they do this? What can I do?

Asked on October 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the landlord may do this. If you owe a certain amount of money and do not pay it all on time in full when due, the landlord (or indeed, any creditor) has the right to apply the money to  past due accounts as he or she chooses to. The only exception would be if the contract or lease specifies a certain order of application; or if, as with credit cards under the new legislation, there is a law specifying in which order to apply payments. Other than that, the creditor or landlord may choose how to apply them.

As a general rule, for future reference: most creditors will apply an amount that is not large enough to pay off everything do to paying off the smaller amounts due first. Also, note that the landlord may have had to apply your money first to utilities in order to avoid a disruption of service.


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