A friend of mine owns an apartment complex in NJ (USA) with multiple rentable units and is having difficulty with a particular tenant who insists on paying his rent in coins (pennies, nickels and dimes - but mostly pennies).
I was asked to provide my two cents on the matter. My quandary is as follows:
Generally a business is under no obligation to accept pennies as a form of payment.
Department of the Treasury states that:
no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services.
However, it is unclear how this concept applies to a situation where a tenant is using pennies to pay for his rent and the landlord is refusing to accept pennies as a form of payment.
The lease between the landlord and tenant does not stipulate that the tenant must pay using a specific form of money. However, it does allow the landlord to evict if the tenant does not pay the rent within 60 days after it is due.
If the tenant offers to pay rent in pennies & the landlord refuses to accept payment, does that mean that the tenant is in violation of the lease agreement which states that the tenant can be evicted if "he does not pay rent within 60 days after it is due"? In other words, while I understand the landlord has a right to reject the rent, the tenant may have fulfilled his obligation as it relates to the terms of the lease as soon as he offered to pay rent?
Additionally, the tenant could argue that if he pays after the due date it is like a debt which can be paid off in any form. Since rent is due at the beginning of each month, if the tenant pays his rent several days after the rent is due, the payment is now considered payment for a debt which would require the landlord to accept it in any form?
Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, states:
United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts.
Who has the upper hand in this case?