I rented my home out to a tenant who gave me a deposit check and first months rent.I exchanged the keys for the checks after signing the lease. When I went to cash the deposit check , the teller notified me that there were insufficient funds. I called the tenant and the tenant exchanged the bad check for cash two days later. On the 1st I tried to cash the first months rent, and this check was also no good. I called the tenant and he explained that it would be good in a few days. I told him that rent is due on the first and late after the 5th with a $150.00 late fee. It is now the 5th and the check is still no good and the bank manager informed me that his account has been RED FLAGGED for bounced checks. I went home and filled out a 3-Day Pay or Quit and mailed it out certified mail and plan to post one on the door of the property tomorrow morning. My question is : Can I keep his deposit if he doesn’t pay in three days and after I file an unlawful detainer and if he does pay, but refuses to pay any of the late fees, can I still evict him. What are my options???
Thanks everyone!!!

I think you made a few mistakes here.

First, I require bank or certified checks for security deposits, for the principal of it, no matter how credit worthy the tenant is.

Second, one of the “verifications” we do during “tenant screening” is for bad checks, whose database is referenced by the tenants “drivers license” number, so it’s flagged no matter what bank he uses. You would know beforehand if this guy issues bad checks.

At this point, evict him, or plan on getting bank checks or money orders from here on in. I had a tenant who since moved on “bank check or money order” bases since he bounced a number of checks on me.

I would think that people like this are awful, but one of my nieces is the best person you’ll ever want to meet, but absolutely naive, “bird brained”, and can never balance a checkbook.

She bounced her security deposit check and the first month’s check on her very first apartment.


Yes, as Frank said, you made some serious mistakes. I always require both the security deposit and first month’s rent in CASH. I do that because I has someone give me a bad check for the security deposit, just as you did. I got my money by filing pressing felony charges against the deadbeat and would encourage you to do the same. The tenant is STEALING from you and deserves to be in jail. Of course, if he pays, the legal system will probably let him off.

Can you keep the security deposit? What does your lease say? Mine says that the security deposit is used to ensure all lease obligations (yours probably does too). In that case, yes, you can keep the security deposit as long as your state’s laws don’t forbid it.

Remember, the contractual amount due is now the rent plus the late fee. Accept no less. Accepting partial payment will void your eviction - NEVER ACCEPT PARTIAL RENT. Once you file the eviction in court, you are incurring court costs, legal fees, etc. Do not accept any money or stop the eviction after you’ve filed with the court. Once I file the eviction, he’s leaving - PERIOD! No second, third, or fourth chances.

Good Luck,


Thanks Mike and Frank!

Mike I noticed you said to go after this deadbeat, but if he’s bouncing bad check and can’t pay rent, then whats there to go after???

Thanks again!

My post doesn’t say go after the deadbeat. My post says to press criminal charges. If you do that, your money will probably magically appear. If not, you’ll have the satisfaction of having he deadbeat go to jail where he belongs.