Can I PayPal the Rent?


I’m totally tech savvy.  I probably download a new app every week. But, when it comes to paying rent, let’s just say – I am comparable to a dumb-phone. Old fashioned, I prefer the paper version – check, please! So when my new roommate moved in and he requested to pay the rent via PayPal, I did a double take. At first, I thought he was joking. Who PayPals the rent? Our landlord was actually 70 years old as compared to me – a 65 year old in the body of a 25 year old. I doubted whether or not the landlord would trust an electronic payment. I mean, I was already suspicious. Our landlord probably would think it was one of those schemes to hack into his bank account – the stories he likely read about in AARP magazine.  

Beyond the usual reasons, I wondered about my roommate’s preference. Was he an environmentalist who wanted to save the earth by not using paper? He was a hipster so that could have been the reason. But, when I asked, I learned the real reason for his request stemmed from the fact that he did not own any checks. No big deal, right? But, wait, my mind began to race. Is it possible to opt not to order checks when you set up a bank account? I wasn’t sure. A sinking feeling hit me: what if my roommate didn’t actually have a bank account? This apartment was his first place on his own. And since this was a small brownstone, the landlord did not have the bandwidth to conduct a credit check, he just took my word for it. I vouched for this guy as a friend of a friend – that was slight a stretch – he was actually a Craigslister.

So, I obliged my roommate’s e-payment request. And as I feared: PayPal failed. I thought it never failed? The error message cited a problem neither of us quite understood. Fixing it involved making multiple phone calls, but we tried again without luck. I told myself not to get nervous. But, rent was due in three days, my girlfriend suggested that perhaps my roommate’s parents were paying his rent – that would explain him not having any checks. Perhaps he was just too embarrassed to give me a check with his mom and dad’s name on it? Thankfully, we found a temporary solution before I had to ask about that, in the form of a banker’s draft check.

So my roommate made his way to the bank. And I worried, anxiously while he was gone. What if he did not come back? Not all of his stuff was moved in yet. Could he flee and never return? What was the law about that? I could sell some of his belongings, but it would never make up for the entire rent. I really needed to stop watching movies on Lifetime Television, they were planting these crazy ideas in my head.

Thankfully, my roommate came back. And our temporary solution actually became permanent because each month when it came time to pay the rent, he made his way to the bank to pay the $10 for the official banker’s draft check. He never bothered to order any of his own checks, but the rent was paid on time so I never asked any other questions.

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