What to do if we sent our rent in the form of a money order but our landlord states she did not receive it and has now served us with a 3-day notice?

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What to do if we sent our rent in the form of a money order but our landlord states she did not receive it and has now served us with a 3-day notice?

This even though we presented her the money order receipt. She has been very unreasonable and Western Union has a process to return our money which may take 30-45 days. We do not have extra funds to pay her right now and can’t move either. What can we do?

Asked on December 22, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Ideally, you would have Western Union void the money order and issue a new one to pay her immediately, but as you say, that requires additional funds, which you apparently do not have.

The landlord may try to evict you if she believes you have not paid rent. She cannot change the locks on you herself, however, but must file an eviction action and have a court grant her possession of your rental. (If she does just try to change the locks, or cut off utilities, etc., you can take her to court for a court order reinstating you in possession and possibly receiving some monetary compensation for the illegal lockout.)

When you get the notice of the court date, make *sure* you appear for court. Appear with your money order receipt, with any documents sent to or from Western Union about getting your money returned, and explain to the judge that you tried to pay her but she claims she never received the money, and that you are willing to pay her once you have your funds released by Western Union. The judge may order that in that case, the landlord has to give you extra time, until the end of the Western Union process.

Even better: if you have enough money to pay her the rent by the time she has a court date, bring the money with you to court and be prepared to pay it on the spot.


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