Most leases require the tenant to pay the security deposit and the first month of rent at signing, or before moving in. But what happens if the tenants move in without paying? As a landlord, your first reaction is to call the police. You may view the tenants as squatters or even burglars, but the police probably will not view it that way.
We have received numerous phone calls from landlords who allowed tenants to move in without paying or by paying with a personal check. If the personal check bounces, you are stuck with squatters, but the police will not come to your rescue. When called to the scene, the police will predictably instruct you that "This is a civil matter. You (the landlord) need to get a court order to remove the tenants." The problem with a court order is the time and money required to obtain the order.
We have also seen this problem occur with houseguests who overstayed their welcome. Calling the police on the unwanted houseguest will result in the same instruction as described above. Changing the locks may result in the houseguest calling the police, and the police are much more likely to intervene on behalf of a houseguest if the houseguest's belongings are in your home. Once again, you may need to obtain a court order to remove the unwanted houseguest.
All of this discussion leads back to the title of this article. If you require a cashier's check or money order before your tenants move in to the property, you will ensure that the tenants have paid the first month of rent and the security deposit. You will not be stuck with tenants residing in your property without having paid a dime.