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  1. #1
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    Jul 2005
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    Default Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: New Jersey

    Over the course of a couple years, I was caring for a sick relative around the clock, and wasn't cashing the rent checks that were coming in. The tenant had been staying here for a few years prior and had proven himself to be a good person. He ended up moving out before I could cash the checks, but, before he left, he assured me that, when I was ready, I could tally up what he owed me, inform him and he'd make good on it.

    I was finally able to get my paperwork in order, I reached out to him and he is not returning either my calls or my emails. It's been a couple weeks since I started reaching out to him.

    I know that I screwed up royally by letting him leave without dealing with the debt, but at the time, I was dealing with a life or death situation that put this on the back burner.

    The total debt is $23K. What kind of legal recourse do I have here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    16,474

    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Quote Quoting scott123
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    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: New Jersey

    Over the course of a couple years, I was caring for a sick relative around the clock, and wasn't cashing the rent checks that were coming in. The tenant had been staying here for a few years prior and had proven himself to be a good person. He ended up moving out before I could cash the checks, but, before he left, he assured me that, when I was ready, I could tally up what he owed me, inform him and he'd make good on it.

    I was finally able to get my paperwork in order, I reached out to him and he is not returning either my calls or my emails. It's been a couple weeks since I started reaching out to him.

    I know that I screwed up royally by letting him leave without dealing with the debt, but at the time, I was dealing with a life or death situation that put this on the back burner.

    The total debt is $23K. What kind of legal recourse do I have here?
    Why the heck didn't you cash the rent checks? What was your rational?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Was this your rental or your relative's rental that you were managing?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Please provide a timeline.

    Over what period were you caring for your relative? Did you have a power of attorney or court order that allowed you to manage this relative's finances?

    Over what period of were the un-negotiated rent checks sent? When you refer to "cashing" the checks, I assume you aren't actually talking about cashing them. Rather, I assume you're talking about depositing them in an appropriate bank account. Correct?

    When did the tenant move out?

    Is your relative still alive? If not, when did he/she die?


    Quote Quoting scott123
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    he is not returning either my calls or my emails. It's been a couple weeks since I started reaching out to him.
    Are you sure you have current contact info?


    Quote Quoting scott123
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    What kind of legal recourse do I have here?
    You? Probably none. Your relative, on the other hand, can sue the former tenant (and may also have a viable claim against you for breach of fiduciary duty).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    New Jersey
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    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    Please provide a timeline.
    Power of Attorney: 2016
    First undeposited check: 2017
    Last undeposited check: 2018
    Tenant moved out: 2018
    Relative deceased: 2018 (shortly after the tenant moved out)

    You do bring up something that hadn't occurred to me. Since the house was in the relative's name, the tenant doesn't owe me, but, rather, they owe the estate. I can't pursue them as me, but as the executor to the estate.

    Do you have any broad strokes on how I can sue this person? I can't just walk into court with a dozen undeposited checks in my hand, can I?

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    18,340

    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    I can't pursue them as me, but as the executor to the estate.
    Have you opened probate and been appointed as executor or representative of the estate by the court?

    You'll have to be appointed before you can do anything with or about the estate. The POA became invalid when the relative died.

    Do you have any broad strokes on how I can sue this person?
    No "broad strokes."

    The estate sues just like anybody else sues.

    I can't just walk into court with a dozen undeposited checks in my hand, can I?
    You'd look pretty stupid trying to blame the tenant because you didn't deposit $23,000 worth of checks.

    Which brings up another point. You had a fiduciary duty to properly manage the relative's assets with the POA. You failed. That's misfeasance. You owe the estate $23,000 if you can't collect from the tenant.

    Heaven help you if there are other heirs and they figure out what you did.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Quote Quoting scott123
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    You do bring up something that hadn't occurred to me. Since the house was in the relative's name, the tenant doesn't owe me, but, rather, they owe the estate. I can't pursue them as me, but as the executor to the estate.
    If the probate court has appointed you as the executor, that's true. The problem is that you have a conflict of interest. Your failure to handle the financial issues properly is arguably a breach of fiduciary duty for which the estate may have a valid claim against you. Have you, in fact, been appointed by the court as executor?


    Quote Quoting scott123
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    Do you have any broad strokes on how I can sue this person?
    You're going to need to hire an attorney. I don't know about NJ in particular, but many states prohibit suits by self-represented executor who aren't themselves attorneys.


    Quote Quoting scott123
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    I can't just walk into court with a dozen undeposited checks in my hand, can I?
    You can, but it won't do you any good.

    Here's a question, though: Why not deposit the checks now?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    16,474

    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    Quote Quoting pg1067
    View Post
    If the probate court has appointed you as the executor, that's true. The problem is that you have a conflict of interest. Your failure to handle the financial issues properly is arguably a breach of fiduciary duty for which the estate may have a valid claim against you. Have you, in fact, been appointed by the court as executor?




    You're going to need to hire an attorney. I don't know about NJ in particular, but many states prohibit suits by self-represented executor who aren't themselves attorneys.




    You can, but it won't do you any good.

    Here's a question, though: Why not deposit the checks now?
    I don't think that the bank will let him, they are too old.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    4,301

    Default Re: Legal Recourse for Stale, Unhonored Rent Checks

    UCC states that banks don't HAVE TO accept checks older than 6 months. That doesn't mean they won't. It is worth a try.

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