TL;DR I allowed my renter to make cash payments a few times over the course of the lease. Sent receipts via text or email as I usually do, not realizing TX Property Code requires written receipts for cash. Recently he advised me this was non-compliant, and within six hours I sent the stack of physical receipts and emailed them to him. He’s threatening to sue. How worried should I be that he can actually sue me for the full amount the law allows?
Details: I’m evicting a problem renter (lease is up, he overstayed and didn’t pay). Among his long list of deficiencies he’s threatening to come after me with, I’ve only found one that might stick. Even though the lease says check or ACH only, I allowed him to pay by cash a few times. Not that it matters to the law I guess, but two of these are times he literally couldn’t get a check because he can’t keep a bank account. Two of them he was already late! I should never have been so nice! I receipted him electronically, but admittedly we’ve had a casual relationship for years before he was even my renter, and my receipt was just usually confirming by text that his rent was paid for the month. Please, no lecture, I know my sins!
When he brought this to my attention, I literally sat down and printed out receipts for every month and mailed them to him Priority Mail within a matter of six hours. Including a cashier’s check for a month I realized he overpaid me by $45.
Does anyone have any experience in Texas with this?
I know the law says the prevailing plaintiff may get up to the full amount of that month’s rent, plus court fees and attorney’s costs.
I did check with an attorney friend and they said my first offense here would be that the law doesn’t say WHEN the receipts have to be provided and I did provide them immediately upon being asked.
Trying to assess my risk level and consider if I should proceed with eviction or maybe settle with him. I can live with it if I’m found to be in violation have to pay a small fine. But, if being in violation means he automatically gets that month’s rent returned that’s a little scary. This happened three months!