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Our Thoughts on Partial Rent Payments

Overdue Rental Payment Notice with KeysAs an Enfield rental property owner, there is a likelihood that as time goes by, you’ll have a tenant ask if they can make a partial rent payment. While you may be enticed to accept it, knowing that something is better than nothing, the truth is that accepting even one partial rent payment can cause numerous issues after some time. Even if there are ways to accept a partial rent payment and diminish the risks related to it, for various landlords, the ideal method in most instances is to take a firm stand and insist that your tenant pay their rent in full. In this post, we will explain why accepting partial rent payments can be so problematic and how to efficiently deal with this difficult circumstance.

Late Fee Disputes

Tenants may think they can avoid being charged late fees or other penalties itemized in their lease by making a partial rent payment. However, everything less than a full payment should still be subject to the same penalties that would happen if no payment was made. Most tenants don’t like late fees and may refrain or refuse to pay. If your tenant chooses to challenge that late fee in court, there’s a high possibility that the judge will side with your tenant, whatever your lease shows.

Fair Housing Laws

Accepting partial rent payments from one tenant but not another increases the likelihood of a discrimination lawsuit. Federal Fair Housing laws are intended to protect tenants in certain protected classes from being treated unfairly by landlords. If you deny a tenant’s request to make a partial rent payment, and they notice that you allowed a different tenant to do so, they could argue in court that you’ve discriminated against them. Even though you completely defend yourself, you’ll wind up paying for it in both legal fees and a damaged reputation.

Maintaining Boundaries

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile,” you understand how troublesome it tends to be to re-establish clear boundaries with some tenants after making an exception to the rule. If you give your tenant a chance to make a late or partial payment without penalty one time, it is certainly possible that they will try it again – and request for more time or more leeway the next time. They may also start assuming that since you didn’t enforce one provision of the lease, you’ll be inclined to accept other violations as well. You can evade boundary-testing tenants by clearly illustrating your expectations in your lease documents and afterward obeying them.

Eviction Delays

If the worst-case scenario happens and you realize that you need to evict a tenant, accepting a partial rent payment can ruin the eviction process. In several states, accepting even one dollar of rent payment from a tenant after you’ve started an eviction will totally void the process. You will not only have to start the entire eviction process over again from the very beginning but you will also be stuck, unable to collect back rent payments while the eviction process takes its course. As relations with your tenant will for sure deteriorate, the entire situation is about to become increasingly difficult for everyone the more it continues onward.

Navigating Partial Payments

Luckily, there are proactive steps you may take to avoid some of the most common risks related to partial rent payments. These are:

  • Setting Clear Expectations. Define your rent payment policy in your lease documents, such as your policy on partial rent payments. This might help you to communicate your expectations to your tenant and lessen the chance that they will try to make a partial payment at all.
  • Get it in Writing. If you do agree to accept a one-time partial payment, put it in writing. Prepare and serve your tenant with a Notice of Nonpayment of Rent or other notice that precisely describes the terms of your accepting their partial payment, together with any connected late charges. Don’t forget to mention the consequences of any supplementary requests or failure to pay the rest of the past-due rent as agreed.
  • Accept Multiple Forms of Payment. If your tenant doesn’t have cash available, one option to avoid partial payments is to let them pay their rent payment with a credit card or another form of payment. Several modern payment methods offer instant transfers and might provide your tenant a little extra convenience in case of necessity. Simply be certain not to accept a personal check, particularly a post-dated one. Some tenants will attempt to “float” a bad check to buy time, but if the check bounces, you will be the one punished with bank charges.


Learning how to deal with partial rent payments is only one small part of successfully managing rental properties. It’s a major obligation and not one for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless, if you want to reclaim your time and put it into different activities, why not hire Real Property Management Beacon to handle the day-to-day tasks your properties need? Our Enfield property managers will work directly with your tenants to ensure that things are done professionally, legally, and efficiently, giving you time and total peace of mind. Contact us online today to learn more.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.