This isn't done so much any more, most places do electronic fund transfers, but you can still do it this way if you choose, and it is perfectly legal.
In the case of February's rent, the product/service the tenant is receiving is the apartment for the month of February.
And you are not required to have the money in the account at the time you set up the arrangement.
Only on the date upon which you've agreed that the check transaction will take place.
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The fact that the LL wants the convenience of collecting the check along with the deposit and signed lease does not mean they are owed money for a service/product they have not yet provided. Otherwise, using the hypothetical posed earlier, if Tenant finds a better apartment in January, they can simply cancel a post-dated check and the LL would have lost precious time in getting the property rented.
LL would have a breached lease with no money in hand to offset the lost time and little likelihood of getting the signed lease enforced.
Because the workers' agreement with their employer is that they provide a certain period of service to the employer, usually two weeks, and get paid at the end of that service.
Employers often have multiple accounts and keep the bulk of their cash in interest-bearing accounts until PM the day before payday, so as to accumulate as much interest as possible. Hotels often take payment information in advance, but they don't charge the credit card or cash your check until you check in--i.e., at the time you receive the service of their room.
However, if the security deposit and first month's rent are at stake, a Tenant is much less likely to walk away.