Landlord Wants Bank Account Access

We all know … don’t trust people with your confidential information. So what would you do if someone wanted access to your bank account? You would tell them to take a leap right? But legally, do they have that right? It’s why one man called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When Nizin Lopez wants to relax, he picks up a marker.

Nizin Lopez, landlord wants bank info: “It’s like a therapy, a release. I am not really interested in fame or being known or rich.”

And since Nizin is just getting by on his monthly disability check, he doesn’t even allow himself to dream of being rich.

Nizin Lopez: “It goes from social security to my bank account. In other words, I cannot risk my bank account in any way.”

Since he struggles to get by on disability, Nizin is very careful with his account information, and so…

Nizin Lopez: “I went to the office to pay my rent with a money order, and the lady there, she said to me the only way you are going to be able to pay rent here in this place, we draw the money straight from your bank account. And you can no longer pay with money order or nothing.'”

For Nizin, the answer was simple.

Nizin Lopez: “I am not going to do it. I am not going to give you guys direct access to my bank account.”

Why? Well how often do you hear, “Don’t let anyone have access to your confidential information?” Nizin listens…

Nizin Lopez: “I don’t buy anything on the internet using my debit card because you never know what could happen.”

Nizin says some people may think he worries too much. He says he’s just careful.

Nizin Lopez: “I am not going to let them to withdraw the money from my bank account. They might, lets say, make a mistake or computer error.”

Nizin says the solution is simple — just let him keep paying rent with a money order on time, like he always does every month. And when his lease expires in May, he will leave. And if they won’t…

Nizin Lopez: “They forced me to break the lease. I am being forced to break the lease and I don’t want to break my lease.”

Well Howard, can your landlord, or anyone for that matter, force you to give them access to your banking information?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Absolutely not. And Nizin’s lease does not require it, so they can’t demand it. And simply put, it’s not smart to give anyone the ability to take money from your account. And if they demand it, walk away.”

I spoke to the apartment complex. I was told they wanted to go green. That renters had to pay direct from their checking account or from a prepaid card. But Nizin got what he wanted. He will be allowed to pay with a money order ’till his lease expires in May.

Howard Finkelstein: “This is a good example of why a written contract or lease is important. It lays out the terms of what can and can’t be done … and neither side can change it without the others approval.”

Nizin is happy he doesn’t have to give the complex access to his bank account. He will continue to pay rent with a money order and then…

Nizin Lopez: “And then on May 31, I leave. I give them the apartment, 100 percent clean. Everything beautiful, everything perfect. No problem.”

Glad Nizin is happy with the way it’s working out. Now if you decide to let someone withdraw a payment from your account each month, do it through your bank, so you can control how much money is sent and when it’s sent. And you can cancel anytime you want. That’s much safer than letting them withdraw when they want.

Got a problem that’s painted you into a corner? Ready to deposit it with someone? Try us. Hopefully we can help you quickly withdraw from the mess. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7