Normally, a payment is not “made” until the creditor receives it; however, if the creditor directs payment by mail, the payment is “made” when deposited in the mail. When a landlord directs a tenant to pay rent by mail (or any other creditor directs payment of a debt by mail), payment is complete when the tenant places the rent check in the mail to the address specified by the landlord. Civ. Code 1476. This reverses the normal rule that, absent the creditor’s direction as to the means of payment, payment is not effective until received by the creditor. Civ. Code 1476 prevails over Com. Code 3310 which governs the discharge of debt by acceptance of an uncertified check, and in any event section 3310 is inapplicable here because the landlord never received or accepted the rent check, as the mail was returned undelivered.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Appellate Division (Ricciardulli, Acting P.J.); April 4, 2017 (published July 13, 2017); 2017 WL 2984900