When landlords refuse a rent check sent by a pooled trust

March 26, 2015

As we know, the pooled trust is a great way for a senior with excess income and/or assets to qualify for Medicaid.  Once the senior is enrolled, the trust starts paying certain bills, and the senior gets Medicaid coverage.  Hooray!

But what if the trust is told to pay the senior's rent, and the senior's landlord refuses to accept the trust's rent check because the check is not drawn on the personal bank account of the senior herself? (Landlords are often loath to accept payments that suggest the slightest hint of association with someone other than the tenant herself.)

A social worker contacted me today to say that just such a problem had arisen for a client of hers, and so I reached out to my colleagues in the housing advocacy community to find out whether there are any non-profit law offices out there that would assist folks in this situation.  I got a few positive responses, including one from a Legal Services lawyer named Christine Clarke, who said that social workers and case workers who have clients with this issue should feel free to contact her directly, preferably by e-mail, and she may be able to offer representation.  Here is her contact information:

Christine Clarke
Staff Attorney, Equal Rights Initiative
Legal Services NYC
40 Worth Street, 6th Floor
New York, New York 10013
Tel: (646) 442-3564

So if a client of yours encounters this problem, take Christine up on her offer! She may be able to force the landlord to accept such pooled-trust checks, perhaps under a theory of income-based or disability-based discrimination.