Tip #60

Don’t Accept a Partial Rent Payment After the Due Date

Written on April 21, 2016 by , updated on May 15, 2017

Partial Rent PaymentsYou want to be a nice and understanding landlord. When your tenant asks if they can make a partial rent payment, what should you do?

It’s easy to get sucked in by sympathy when your tenant tells you that they just had their hours cut on the job or that they fell ill and have medical bills.

There might be an occasion where accepting a partial rent payment on the due date could work out. If your tenant has been renting from you for several years and has never been late, you might want to give this excellent tenant a chance to catch up and let them make a partial rent payment on the due date for maybe one time. This tenant has proven to be trustworthy, after all.

If You Agree to Accept a Partial Rent Payment

If you agree to accept a partial rent payment on the due date, put in writing what the arrangement is. State the amount of rent the tenant pays you (the partial amount) and the date that the balance is due. If you charge a late fee per your lease, also specify whether you will be charging the late fee and the amount or whether you will be waiving the late fee. Sign this notice, and have your tenant sign it as well.

Related: What to Do and Not to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent on Time

It’s acceptable to allow partial rent payments before the due date.

Fall Back on Your Lease

Your lease probably states when rent is due each month, such as on the first day of the month or on the 15th of each month. Having language about when rent is due each month means you don’t also need a clause that addresses partial rent payments.

But if you don’t want to accept partial rent payments and feel as if you want some backup (maybe because you’re a big softie who can never say “no”), go ahead and include language in your lease that prohibits tenants from making partial rent payments. It could be something along these lines:

I usually outline all possible solutions including:

  1. Hefty one-time & daily late fee
  2. Lease termination
  3. Eviction / Judgment
  4. Damage to Credit
  5. Collections / Garnishments

When to Accept Partial Rent Payments

While it’s generally a best practice to not accept partial payments on the due date or during an eviction, it’s perfectly acceptable to allow partial payments before the due date — as long as your tenants pay in full by the due date.

In roommate situations, it’s okay to accept partial payments from each of the roommates, as long as the total rent due is paid by the due date.

All online property management softwares, like Cozy, allow tenants to make partial payments, so they roommates can pay in portions. But once the due date hits, you should still enforce your late fee policy if the total amount due is not paid. This happens sometimes in roommate situations where three roommates pay on time but the forth forgets. In that case, the whole group gets assigned a late fee, according to the lease. Personally, I just mandate that my tenants setup automatic payments in Cozy, so they can’t forget.

Note: Cozy allows for partial payments. Cozy also has a feature to let you stop payments and terminate the lease in the case of an eviction. This prevents tenants from paying a nominal sum, such as $1, just to delay eviction. It’s a nice feature.

Why It’s Bad to Accept a Partial Rent Payment

The reason it isn’t a good idea to accept a partial rent payment on the due date is that if your tenant can’t afford the rent this month, they’re likely to not be able to afford it next month. The longer you let this go on, the further behind they’ll get on paying you your rent.

Before you know it, your tenant can get seriously behind in rent payments.

Another reason not to allow a partial rent payment, even for a good tenant, is if you have multiple properties. It’s not good practice to have different rent policies. If you start letting one tenant make partial payments and not your others, and your other tenants somehow find out, you could be accused of discrimination.

This Is Your Business

When tenants have financial difficulties, they probably need to prioritize which payments they must make and which they can slide on a bit. If they don’t make their car payment, their car will be repossessed. If they don’t pay their credit card, they’ll hurt their credit score. So they might test the waters to see whether you’ll be the creditor they can put on the back burner.

If you let tenants slide on rent, then you’ll probably see partial payments and late payments pretty regularly.

You, as a landlord, likely depend on getting your full rent payment on time so that you can pay the mortgage. You can’t very well go to your bank and offer a partial mortgage payment. In fact, the mortgage company will send back the partial payment!

But if your tenant makes partial payments throughout the month, that’s okay, as long as you get your full rent by the due date.

Remember that you’re running a business, and doing so requires that you have rules and that your tenants abide by them or they will, unfortunately, need to leave.

A good motto to memorize is “If you can’t pay, you can’t stay.”

Check the Law

Here’s some more food for thought: In some jurisdictions (you’ll need to check your state law on this), if you accept partial rent payment, you might not be able to evict your tenant if, despite what they told you, they never got around to paying the balance.

If you accepted an amount less than the full amount, you will waive your right to collect full payment for that month in some jurisdictions.

Bottom Line

If you can’t pay, you can’t stay.

The phrases, nice guys finish last and no good deed goes unpunished are famous phrases for a reason. If you veer from your rental agreement and start letting tenants slide on rent payments by letting them make a partial payment on the due date, you might soon be out of the landlord business.

But it’s okay to accept partial payments with the caveat that if a tenant doesn’t pay the whole thing by the due date, they will get a late fee and possibly a “notice to pay or quit.” And during an eviction, you should refuse all payments (partial or full) until the court hearing.

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51 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • neal

    These lessons are very true. I had a tenant that tried to pay late or partial payments…once you permit it, they will repeat it time and time again.

    • rebecca

      You are so right. We are currently dealing with this with someone who’s doing a rent-to-own situation on our old house. At first, we tried to work with them and let them do partial and late payments because they fed us a sob story about their hours being cut at work. We’ve been there, plus this is our first time being landlords. Ever since then, it’s been a nightmare. They have a different sob story each month, keep going back on what they have promised to do about paying, and keep giving us partial rent even when they’ve swore they would have the full amount on a certain day. While the whole payment does get paid by when our mortgage is due, the stress of having to deal with this is just too much.

      • rebecca

        We let it go on for several months because they were at least paying, even though it was late, and We needed them to stay in the house so we didn’t have to make two mortgage payments. We’re at our wits end with it now, though. We’ve told them that we will no longer accept this type of payment situation, and they must have it in full by the 15th or move.

        • Wylted

          You are getting paid every single time, who cares if it is late. If my boss pays me 2 weeks late I don’t even care, I just want my money. Even in the few businesses I run. Just give me money and I’ll leave you alone. If you want to pay 5 days late every month and increase my profit when I charge a late fee awesome. More money for me.

          • Josef Reisner

            Yes! I totally agree and appreciate your unique point of view. Property owners are so tied up by the due date. As long as its not out of control late.

      • Patricia Wilson

        I paid my landlord partial payment on the 3rd and told her i could pay the rest on the 8 i have the money but she wouldnt take it what should i do know

  • Tom

    The fact is you REALLY need to be a heartless to be a landlord so if you can’t stomach being cruel for your own “business” do not become a one.

    • Jim

      Totally agree. Heartless and sometimes cruel is correct. It is your business. Putting good people out on the street who fall on bad times is your job.

      • Ron

        Waiver should be given once to each resident IF the resident asks for such. Fairness is key, with strict rules communicated clearly from the outset. No need to eject souls to the gutter.

      • Isa

        I understand that sometimes it is necessary to evict someone specially if they keep falling behind, but the way u said it, it lets me know u are a cold heartless soul and soon or later that will come bite u later. You know, some of these people have children and most times the reason they fall behind on rent is because they get their hours cut down which makes it harder to pay for rent on time. Keep in mind that they might also have their kids to feed. Maybe u shouldn’t be so mean to people because one day u can find urself in the same situation and i guarantee u that u will also want consideration.
        Just a tiny advice

        • Val

          I totally agree with you. My family’s business is construction and Rental properties. We understand that sh*t happens​ sometimes. We come to the states in ’88 and my family worked extremely hard to get where we are today. However, there were times when my parents couldn’t make the rent due to having 9 children. So, we’ve been there. We give people the chance. Now, there are those tenats that you may run into that just don’t care. In that case we take the legal route. Still we treat others as we would want to be treated. God giveth and He taketh. YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

        • Heather

          That’s ridiculous
          1) did the landlord force this person/people with kids into a contract? Did the landlord make them have kids? Literally not a landlords responsibility…. think about it in the reverse…why is greedy and cruel for a landlord to ask for rent when due but okay to still a landlord who probably also has kids and a family to feed? It’s their money and their investment that they work hard for too and their livelihood…so if it’s a choice between my family and theirs I’ll choose mine just like anyone else
          2) most states landlord-tenant laws nowadays strongly strongly favor the tenant
          …I tried to be nice once….I accepted partial payments, she never paid like agreed and just got worse and worse…will never be that nice again

        • Judy Fierro

          You seem to disregard the fact that landlords also have families and children to feed and clothe and support. What are they supposed to do when someone who promises to pay their rent does not fulfill this obligation? Flip a coin to see whose children should starve: the landlords or the tenants?
          Nonpayment of rent such as this, especially when it becomes a matter of beating the system is just a demonstration to those children how to beat the system when they become adults; and this bad habit becomes generational, just like welfare, food-stamp dependency, and ultimately being supported by the taxpayers for generations and generations to come.

          • Kayla

            Welfare and food stamp dependency? Wow your talking out your neck. I work 40+ hours a week minimum to support my disabled husband and my 2 children and i still dont make enough. Some people were brought up in families and situations that they never asked for. I work hard everyday for what me and my family have. My last landlord [ whom i am still dealing with (btw) ] charged us 1100$ a month for rent and yes granted there were a few times that we were late but we always paid it within the first week of the month, never more. The last month we fell on hard times moving and its only been 4 days and shes threatening to sue us. So dont talk about things you know nothing about. How is any of that fair? Weve been good tenants besides the last MO.

        • Kerri

          We have always paid our rent on time until my mom became terminally I’ll in 2018. It was necessary for me to be there with her. I had to take a off work to be with her. It breaks my heart that my mother only lived 4 wks after her diagnosis. Needless to say I was without pay for those 4 wks which then caused me to get behind for the month compounded on top of my rent a $25.00 late fee per day after the fifth of the month. My rent is $1000.00 a month and a late fee of $700.00. She has taken partial payments twice this month and within a 24 hour period, she informed me to vacate the property by the end of this month. I gave her every penny I have, now I have no money to move, and the holiday r coming up. Merry Christmas!

  • tamika .

    yeah that’s true but what if that was you

  • Ida

    QUESTION if u pay quarterly payments are you considered late by paying 2 months and the 3rd before that month??

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ida,

      If you’re on quarterly payments, then you likely have a quarterly due date specified in your lease. Rent is paid before the months that the money covers, so you should be paying 3 months ahead. Does that make sense?

  • Jen

    I agreed to accept partial payment from my tenant for rent that is not yet due, on the condition that the balance is paid by the first day of the month it is due. Do I give him a receipt for partial payment of that month, or an agreement stating he will pay the balance, or both?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Jen,
      I think it’s good practice to give a receipt whenever you receive a payment. If your tenant wants to give you a partial payment early, you can give a receipt and state the amount that was paid. You can then issue a second receipt when you receive the balance. You don’t need an agreement stating he will pay the balance since that is what the lease or rental agreement is for.

      • Jen

        Thanks for the prompt reply Laura! This was helpful. I was not expecting advance partial payment so I did not have any receipts with me at the time.

  • Joan Hair

    State of Georgia: Today, April 1, I received only half the rent from my tenant, that was due today. He said he would pay the balance in 2 weeks. By cashing the check for partial payment, have I lost my right to file a dispossessory affidavit if he doesn’t pay up within 2 weeks. Also, he is a tenant-at-will, in my terrace level and threatened to get every judge in the county after me when I gave him 60 days notice a couple of weeks ago. I am planning on selling and desperately need to get in there and clean up his filthy mess before I put my home on the market. Thank you.

    Joan

  • Ronnie Gill

    Situation: my son pays $850 for rent. Office manager accepted partial payments until he is now $4,000 past due. When owner found out, he now wants him to pay the 4,000 or be evicted. If he had money he never would have gotten behind. is he obligated to pay that $4,000. I think They should have evicted him after he got 2 months behind. He lives in Louisiana. Please help!

    • Josh

      Either way, he owes the $4,000 or however much his rent is behind. Regardless of how long they allowed him to make partial payments, the money is still owed. The amount he was to pay each month was explained to him at the beginning of the lease. If he chose not to pay the agreed upon amount, then that responsibility falls on him. You’d have to check Louisiana’s landlord and tenant laws to see if they are able to evict him if he’s making partial payments, since they are accepting the partial payments. In VA, If rent is owed past the due date, owner can deliver a 5-day “pay or quit” notice and then start eviction process. Each state is different. He’ll owe a lot more if they don’t evict him and they probably won’t renew the lease.

    • Josh

      https://www.landlordology.com/louisiana-landlord-tenant-laws/
      http://www.legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?p=y&d=112073
      It appears Louisiana also has a similar five-day notice policy. You should consult with an attorney regarding whether they can evict him for making partial payments. Good luck.

  • Kee

    I owe my apartments for unpaid rent from april. About $132. I received a notice to vacate although my may was paid in full and accepted. Is this legal in Texas? the notice to vacate was typed as if I owe for May and that is not the case. When I pointed out that it was not for May and that my rent is paid, the landlord said “well last month”. My question is if I can be evicted for the amount of last month that I owe if they accepted my rent for this month?

    • Nichole

      Some people who get behind do catch up being cold hearted gets you no where giving somebody a chance is what American was founded on. People now a days only care about themselves. And honestly it’s sad

  • Bill Yerd

    We moved out of a rental in Dec 2016 because we closed quickly on a home purchase. Our LL has tried to hold us responsible for the rent through our lease end date of July 2017. However, he has accepted partial payments of various sizes each month since Feb 2017. He has not sent us any notices of any kind other than a text asking for a payment each month. Since he accepted partial payment without eviction (we moved out in Dec 2016) but still had the key and paid utilities, do we owe him for back rent in a legal sense? Upstate NY. Thanks!

  • Dee

    If i pay half rent can i be evected for this of not being able to pay the other half this is my first time with a half payment

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dee,

      If you don’t pay the total rent in full by the due date, then you would be in breach of contract. The landlord could file an eviction action against you for unpaid rent, after giving proper notice.

      Please talk to a lawyer about your situation, because I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Michael

    Question: If we were on a partial payment plan with the manager, didnt pay on the dates written down, but made a payment during that time and afterwards. We are going through the eviction process and are being evicted for breaking the agreement. Yet they accepted a payment not on the days specified. This is in Polk County, Oregon. We know we broke the agreement, but on the other hand they took our payments, knowing we broke the agreement. We under the impression they would work with us, but got blindsided by fact the owner wants us out for breaking the agreement. Do we have any legal ground to contest this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michael,

      I wish I could help, but you really need to talk to a lawyer about it. Lawyers are really the only people qualified to give you legal advice. Good luck to you!

  • Tiffany L

    If you pay your rent on the 15th of every month (example May 15th- June 15th) and you give your 30 day notice with your final rent payment on the 15th (June 15th), does the landlord have to right to charge you for rent you’ve already paid? He is withholding rent for July 1st – July 15. Please help!

  • Becca

    I use the rent collection feature on Cozy, my tenant in California has sent me a partial rent payment that will deposit into my account prior to due date. The lease agreement states: “We do not accept partial payments under any condition. Rent is due on the 1st of the month and if not received by midnight on the 5th of the month, on the 6th a late fee will be assessed.
    Cozy does not currently reject partial rent payments. I am unsure of how to respond to this. I did not expect early partial payments.
    Will accepting this partial payment waiting to see if tenant pays the remainder by the due date be considered a breach of the lease and cause a problem in the event an eviction process may occur?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Becca,

      You are correct in that Cozy does not reject partial rent payments. In fact, the industry best practice is to only refuse partial payments AFTER the due date (+ any grace period). As far as I know, there’s really no benefit to refusing payment before it’s due – in fact, it mirrors the way the rest of the world works. All other companies, such as your mortgage company, utilities, credit cards, car payments, etc, all allow you to pay early – and for good reason – it help to ensure they get paid.

      Accepting partial payments is the only way to accept money from roommates (unless you force them pay each other, and then pay you in 1 lump sum). Cozy allow multiple roommates to pay on a single lease, so you’ll never have to force them to pool their money (which often creates more insufficient funds situations than it’s worth).

      Early partial payments happens in nearly 100% of the roommate situations, and for those who want to pay rent in smaller chunks throughout the month for budgeting reasons (like every friday, on payday).

      My suggestion (which is not legal advice), would be to reword your lease to give you the ability to refuse partial payments AFTER the 5th. Then, let your tenants pay whenever they want, in whatever dollar amounts they want, as long as they aren’t late on rent. You’ll make your tenants happy, and you’ll eliminate red tape that has little benefit. Cozy will track the balances for you, so you’ll never wonder if they are paid up, or current on the rent.

      Partial payments only becomes an issue (in relation to evictions), when you accept it after the due date (plus grace period).

      If I’m missing something, and there’s an unseen benefit here to prohibiting payments before they are due, let me know.

      • Michael

        Your 2nd to last paragraph is exactly why I don’t want to allow partical payment after the due date. Being nice and working with a tenant is preferred, but ultimately we can agree it’s a business. In California, accepting partial payment restricts the landlords right to evict.

        Cozy is a nice product and, from a fellow software engineer, I can see a lot of thought and work went into it, but it doesn’t appear to be the right product for me.

  • Tania

    I am currently renting and I like to pay ahead in partial payments to better manage my finances throughout the month. My manager just told me they no longer accept any partial payments and will only accept payment in full. I will be speaking with upper management, but I’m curious to know if accepting early partial payment can ever be detrimental. It seems like you (the writer) are in favor of it, but I wonder why any landlord wouldn’t be.

  • PEGGY CHAUVIN

    I am renting on a month to month bass with no lease in Louisiana. I accepted half the rent on the due date with a promise that the other half would be on the 14th before the mortgage co. Charges a late charge. She sent me a text promising to pay today with the late charge. Late paymets are becoming a habit now. I think because they are gambling the rent money. I have everything in text and have information that someone gives hr the rent money every month on the first. Can I serve her with a 5 day notice to vacate? I didnt mention all of the damage her teenagers have done. She is a friend and I think I have been too nice. I used the security deposit to fix damage thee caused. Now there is more damage that I know I’m going to had to pay for

  • Victoria

    I live in California and my rent is 750 and I paid 650 but I can not pay the balance until the 26 th of this month. New owners do they are being strict I have paid past rent to them on time but I was told they will give me until this Friday and after that a 3 day notice and that they will not accept the payment if made on the 26th so my question is if I paid it anyway on the 26 can they refuse it and start eviction anyway even if I made the payment.

  • Robert

    This is stupid sometimes the VA pays me late or messed up or I can’t withdrawal the rent due to limits on ATM. My landlord cries and complains I only have 800 not 850 wah. Idgaf bruh You’ll get ur shit on Monday. You are just power freaks. It is not such a slippery slope as a fear that keeps u guys up at nite. Well maybe if u were better judges of character….

  • Kayla

    Welfare and food stamp dependency? Wow your talking out your neck. I work 40+ hours a week minimum to support my disabled husband and my 2 children and i still dont make enough. Some people were brought up in families and situations that they never asked for. I work hard everyday for what me and my family have. My last landlord [ whom i am still dealing with (btw) ] charged us 1100$ a month for rent and yes granted there were a few times that we were late but we always paid it within the first week of the month, never more. The last month we fell on hard times moving and its only been 4 days and shes threatening to sue us. So dont talk about things you know nothing about. How is any of that fair? Weve been good tenants besides the last MO.

  • Kevin

    Is there a way to reject payments from a tenant?

    I have a tenant whose lease has ended. They were supposed to move out, but now refuse to. They sent me a check for the next months rent – which my lawyer told to not to cash, as it would extend the lease.

    If I had set them up on Cozy, could they have paid the rent – thereby indirectly extending the lease?

  • Michael

    If the rent payments are below the set rent amount by the set due date, can the cozy payment settings be set to reject and notify tenant & landlord?

    In CA, partial payment acceptance prevents me from evicting a tenant. It’s rare for me to evict, but late payment do happen and I don’t want to allow someone that pays $1 to remain another 30 days.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michael,

      Lucas from Cozy here. While Cozy can’t reject partial payments (simply because that would create havoc for roommates), it can apply automatic late fees on the day of your choosing. So if the rent is not paid in full by the due date, Cozy will automatically assign a fee.

      For what it’s worth, partial payment only prevents you from evicting a tenant in CA if you’ve already given a 3 day notice to quit, and they have failed to pay in full by the end of the 3 days. Then you have to terminate the lease on the 4th day, and take your proof of notice and termination to the court and apply for an unlawful detainer action. THEN, and only then, if you accept any money from the tenant, will it prevent you from evicting a tenant (you’d have to start over). The good news is that once you terminate the lease in real life (after the 3 day notice to pay or quit), then you can also terminate the lease and Cozy, which will block the tenant from making any more payments. If you follow the law on evictions, Cozy will accommodate your needs to not accept any payments after the eviction process has begun.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord who has written summaries on all the state laws: https://www.landlordology.com/state-laws. For actual legal advice, please consult with a local attorney.

  • JO

    Can I refuse a late deposit and start eviction process? Roommate in my own home, moved in on the 4th. Lease states pay deposit and 1st month at move in. She can’t pay deposit, just 1st month. Asks to pay deposit 6 days later. Agreed. The 10th comes and goes and no mentioning of deposit. I text her on the 16th to remind her of the deposit, she tells me she totally forgot and doesn’t have the $. Asks me to wait 7-10 days till she is to get some extra $. The 10th day comes and still no $. I tell her I want that $ within 2 days or she needs to move. She start sending me angry texts and telling me to chill and wait till she has the $. Her attitude is the deal breaker.

  • Shelley McMaster

    The life you judge, will one day be the life you live.

  • Peter

    Hi,

    I have a tenant here in California who has made a partial payment of $900 and owes a balance of just $50. I wouldn’t care so much except that I know that my conduct as landlord can effectivelty change the terms of the rental agreement. Meaning, if I make a habit of accepting partial payments, then the rental agreement changes to reflect this informal arrangement that I’ve allowed to happen. It’s not about the $50. It’s about making sure that I can manage my business effectively. Do I write up a 3-day notice for this measly $50 in order to prevent validating future partial payments?

    Thanks!!

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Peter,
      I can tell you what I have done in a similar situation. I sent in writing that the tenant owes me X, due immediately. I then let them know that if I didn’t receive the money this month, it would come out of their security deposit upon move out. You can also state that not receiving full rent payment one month does not set a precedent for partial rent payment moving forward. Note that if this happens again, you might not wish to renew this person’s lease.

      • Peter

        Hi Laura,
        Thanks for the good idea. I followed your advice with a variation and it seems that it worked. I notified the tenant that the rest of the rent was due immediately and that I would serve a 3-day notice if not received (but I really did not want it come to that). I guess that this was enough of a nudge because they paid the balance soon after I sent the text. I think that I will also take note from the article and send my tenants an addendum that states that partial payments won’t accepted. I feel like I need to emphasize that because I just bought this building with existing tenants and I think that there was a somewhat looser arrangement under the previous owners. Need a little bit of a reset. Thanks!! :-)

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