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I normally submit rent on the 1st of the month after I get paid. This month I wasn’t going to be in town on the 1st so I gave my check to my landlord early with explicit instructions to not submit the check until the 1st, she agreed to not submit it until the first. Also, the check was post-dated to the 1st so my understanding was the check couldn’t even be submitted until the 1st even if she tried. Nevertheless my landlord tried to submit the check and it bounced and she is now charging me fees for the bounce say it is my fault that she forgot.

Do I have any legal right to not pay the fees? Again I did post-date the check and explicit ask her to not submit it until the 1st which she aggred to.

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    Check this about the post-dating part: money.stackexchange.com/questions/33693/…. Maybe you have some point on the basis that she agreed not to submit the check until a given date. – SJuan76 Jan 5 at 17:16
  • Many banks have available a service which will automatically make a payment, or send a check, to a specified recipient on a specified date, such as the first of every month, for a specified amount. If one3 uses such a service to pay rent, it should always be paid on time, whether one is in town or not, and one ned not worry about forgetting to make the payment. Of course, the funds must be in the account on the date of payment.. – David Siegel Jan 5 at 18:16
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    I believe that at least one US state has a provision in its landlord/tenant law forbidding a landlord from depositing a post-dated check early. I don't remember which state that is. Under what jurisdiction did this occur? – David Siegel Jan 5 at 18:17
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Do I have any legal right to not pay the fees?

Yes. You reasonably relied on the landlord's agreement that she would follow your direction(s), whence you are not liable for errors the landlord makes and which you specifically cautioned her to avoid.

However, unless there was something in writing that reflects your request, it is foreseeable that the landlord will deny that you gave her that indication. If she denies it, the difficult part might be for you to prove that the landlord agreed not to submit the check ahead of schedule.

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Do I have any legal right to not pay the fees?

On the facts, you must pay the fees

First, a check is a negotiable instrument as soon as it is signed irrespective of the date on it - anyone you give it to is entitled to bank it and your bank is required to pay it from your funds.

Second, signing a check knowing you do not have the funds to cover it is illegal.

As such, the agreement you made with your landlord is not a contract as it is void for illegality of purpose - because the agreement required an illegal act on your part. Also, because you didn’t give anything of value for your landlord’s agreement it is void for absence of consideration. As the agreement is not a contract no consequences attach to the landlord for failing to abide by it.

  • I believe that in at least some jurisdictions, a postdated check is legally a promissory note, not a negotiable instrument. But typically your deposit agreement with your bank says that the bank can either pay it or not, at their option, on presentment, since the bank doesn't want to be responsible for checking the date. – Nate Eldredge Jan 5 at 22:42
  • See for instance the Uniform Commercial Code: law.cornell.edu/ucc/3/3-113. "An instrument payable on demand is not payable before the date of the instrument." – Nate Eldredge Jan 5 at 22:44
  • In such jurisdictions, it would typically not be illegal to sign a postdated check for which there are no funds today - only if you know there will not be funds to cover it by the check's date. – Nate Eldredge Jan 5 at 22:47
  • @Nate Eldredge According to UCC Sec 4-401 sec 3-113 does not apply to checks. – David Siegel Jan 5 at 22:50
  • @DavidSiegel: By my reading, that gives the bank the right (but not the obligation!) to pay the check before its date, unless the depositor has given them special notice. Again, they don't want to have to read the date on the check. But it doesn't say anything about whether the payee is entitled to receive the funds. – Nate Eldredge Jan 5 at 22:54

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