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March 2018 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What effect does acceptance of a partial payment of rent have?

Answer: Acceptance by a landlord of a partial payment of rent from a tenant is, first and foremost, a business decision, but it may have legal ramifications. If you have already served a Demand for Compliance or Possession (3 day notice), then your acceptance of a partial payment will be a defense to any eviction case based upon that Demand. So, if you wish to accept a partial payment, serve the tenant with a new Demand for the new balance due. That will give the tenant another 3 days to pay the balance. You can also have the tenant sign a written agreement in which he waives any defense to an eviction on the partially paid Demand. If an eviction case has already begun when the partial payment is tendered, then acceptance of the partial payment will give the tenant a complete defense. If you then dismiss the eviction case, you may not be able to collect the attorney’s fees and court costs for the eviction because you did not prevail in the eviction lawsuit. However, the tenant can sign a written agreement to pay the attorney’s fees as a condition of your acceptance of the partial payment.

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