Should Landlords Accept Partial Rent Payments?

Partial rent payments can offer temporary relief for tenants facing financial challenges. However, landlords should be cautious, as accepting these can complicate eviction processes and lease terms.

By
Gemma Smith
|
Last Updated
June 11, 2023
Should Landlords Accept Partial Rent Payments?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a tenant couldn't pay their rent in full? While the concept of partial rent payments might seem straightforward, there's more to it than meets the eye.

Imagine being a landlord and having a tenant offer to pay only a portion of their due rent, promising the rest later. The implications of such a situation can range from financial delays to complex legal issues. In this article, we'll dive deep into what partial rent payments entail, why tenants might opt for them, the legal intricacies involved, and tips on how landlords can handle them.

Furthermore, we'll uncover how platforms like Azibo can simplify and streamline the rent payment process. Whether you're a landlord seeking guidance or a tenant wanting to understand your rights, this guide has got you covered.

What are partial rent payments?

When a tenant makes a partial rent payment, they're only paying a portion of their monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,000, a partial rent payment may only total $500. That said, a partial payment could be any amount — it doesn’t necessarily have to be half. 

Imagine this scenario: Your tenant’s rent, which is $1,000 a month, is due on the first, but they can’t pay their rent in full between the 1st and the 10th — the grace period you had set for rent collection. Instead, they pay $300 on the 1st and the remaining $700 on the 20th. 

As a result, their partial rent payment crosses over into late payment territory. Because the second half of this partial payment comes outside of the grace period you had set for accepting rent, it’s considered late, and may come with a late fee if one is outlined in the lease. 

Partial rent vs. late rent

Partial rent is a payment that only covers a fraction of the total amount due for a given period. This doesn't necessarily indicate tardiness, though — a partial payment made within the accepted payment timeframe won't be considered late. However, depending on local laws, accepting partial rent might affect some of the landlord's legal rights, such as the ability to evict.

On the other hand, late rent pertains to any rent payment, be it full or partial, made after the designated due date and any grace period. Late payments often come with penalties, as defined in the lease agreement.

Consistently paying rent late can affect a tenant's rental history and relationship with the landlord. It's beneficial for tenants to communicate transparently with their landlords if they anticipate making a partial payment, and they should also be informed about the potential consequences of both partial and late payments.

Why might tenants opt for partial rent payments?

Tenants have many reasons for asking their landlord to consider a partial rent payment. These include:

  • Lack of funds: Sometimes, tenants don’t have sufficient funds in their bank account when rent is due. To buy some time, they may ask their landlord to pay a little up front and the rest later. 
  • Unexpected financial troubles or uncertainty: Even the best tenants may run into financial trouble from time to time. Medical bills, car repairs, or other unexpected expenses can set tenants back financially, making it challenging to pay rent in full. 
  • Unwillingness to pay: Rent can be expensive. If a tenant becomes frustrated with the price of rent or simply doesn’t want to pay in full, they might propose a partial rent payment.
  • A significant property repair/renovation is underway: In some cases, tenants arrive on the property, and it’s not yet up to par. Maintenance or renovations may still be underway, and they don’t want to pay their full rent until it’s all completed.
  • The property is no longer habitable: In the same vein, if a tenant considers a property uninhabitable, they may withhold the full cost of rent until the property is compliant with regulations. 

Despite all these reasons, there is no rule about whether or not landlords must accept tenants’ propositions for partial payments. Instead, landlords get to decide whether or not they are willing to accommodate their tenants’ needs and accept an incomplete payment. 

Legal considerations for partial payment of rent

To navigate the world of partial rent payments confidently and make informed decisions, landlords and tenants need to possess a solid understanding of the legal landscape.

Waiver of rights

One of the most significant concerns for landlords is the potential waiver of rights. In many jurisdictions, accepting partial rent might mean waiving the right to evict a tenant for non-payment of the rent owed that month, especially if the tenant doesn't cover the remaining balance later.

The importance of comprehensive records

Maintaining accurate and comprehensive records is not just a best practice; it's vital. All partial payments should be documented meticulously, noting the amount, date, and terms of the agreement. Such documentation becomes a cornerstone in the face of disputes or necessary legal actions.

Local regulations and lease agreements

Local regulations have a profound impact on how partial payments are handled. Landlords must make themselves intimately familiar with their jurisdiction's specifics. The lease agreement further reinforces these regulations, serving as the guide for handling partial payments and any associated penalties or late fees.

Navigating eviction proceedings

Accepting a partial rent payment from a tenant while they're being evicted for non-payment could disrupt, delay, or even halt the eviction process, depending on your local laws.

Imposing late fees and non-waiver agreements

Late fees need to be handled carefully. Before imposing fees on partial payments, make sure that your your lease terms align with your local regulations. Landlords in regions where accepting partial payments might diminish their rights should consider implementing non-waiver agreements. When signed by the tenant, these agreements indicate that the landlord's acceptance of a partial payment doesn't forfeit any of their legal rights, including the right to eviction.

The role of clear communication

Communication is a potent tool in this scenario. Should landlords decide against accepting partial payments, it's vital to communicate this decision transparently to the tenant, setting clear payment deadlines and outlining the repercussions of non-compliance.

Seeking professional advice

Due to the multifaceted nature of handling partial rent payments and their legal implications, landlords are strongly advised to seek counsel from legal professionals familiar with local rental laws, ensuring they're on solid ground every step of the way.

What's the best way to handle a partial rent payment?

To ensure both financial accountability and the sustainability of your rental business, consider the following tips when dealing with partial rent payments:

Set clear expectations

Begin by having an open conversation with your tenant. Understand their reasons for the partial payment and set a firm deadline for the balance or full payment. It's essential to emphasize that recurring partial payments are not sustainable and may not be accepted in the future.

Incorporate a late fee

Consider charging a late fee if the partial payment comes after your standard grace period. This discourages tenants from making habitual partial payments. Platforms like Azibo can streamline this process, automatically charging late fees if balances remain after the grace period.

Maintain accurate records

Juggling multiple properties and tenants can become overwhelming. Using tools like Azibo's monthly rent dashboard can centralize and simplify record-keeping, ensuring all payment records, including partial payments and late fees, are up-to-date and easily accessible.

Stay informed on local laws

Local regulations can have significant implications on how you handle partial payments and evictions. For instance, in some areas, accepting a partial payment might hinder your ability to evict a tenant later or seek the unpaid balance for a particular month. Always ensure your actions align with local legal guidelines.

Include a clause in your lease

To avoid any ambiguities, your lease should have a specific clause about partial rent payments. This clause should detail the conditions under which such payments are accepted and the potential late fees.

Always remember to strike a balance: while compassion and understanding are essential, the sustainability of your rental business should remain at the forefront. By setting clear policies and staying organized, you can handle partial payments in a way that protects both your interests and your relationship with your tenants.

Should landlords accept partial rent payments?

There are benefits and drawbacks to accepting partial rent payments from tenants. Some of the most compelling reasons why landlords consider this method of rent collection are:

  • You’re still receiving a payment: By accommodating a partial payment, you guarantee that at least some revenue is coming into your rental property business. It’s undeniable that a partial payment is better than no payment. 
  • You’re accommodating your tenants’ needs: Tenants value flexibility. Maybe they need some extra time to generate rent money for the month. By listening to their concerns and granting them an extension to complete the payment, you demonstrate that you care about their needs

That said, there are certainly risks associated with partial rent payments, some of which include:

  • You may set a bad precedent: By opening the door to this rent collection method, you risk creating a bad habit among tenants. The last thing you want is tenants consistently not paying on time or missing payments. 
  • You risk prolonging the eviction process: While this can depend on local laws, it’s not a good idea to accept a partial payment if you have already filed for an eviction. If you accept a payment, you may have to restart the eviction process, wasting valuable time and resources. 

Simplify partial payments with Azibo

Whether you accept partial rent payments or not, you'll need a simple and streamlined rent collection platform. With Azibo, landlords now have the option to enable partial payments and allow tenants to submit up to four payments toward an invoice. 

The process only requires a few simple steps: 

  1. Sign in to your Azibo account.
  2. Go to the Properties tab.
  3. Locate the correct property and tenant unit.
  4. Click the unit and find the renter’s payment terms.
  5. Turn partial payments on using the toggle and set a minimum payment amount (Azibo has a $100 minimum).

If you only want to enable partial payments for a single invoice:

  1. Click on the invoice in the Payment Center or Total Monthly Rent dashboard.
  2. Click on the invoice arrow to expand.
  3. Turn partial payments on using the toggle for this invoice.

Built for landlords, Azibo’s intuitive platform helps you streamline rent collection, mitigate risks associated with partial payments, and ensure your investments stay protected. 

Ready to try Azibo's free rent collection platform? Sign up today.

Partial rent payments: Are they right for you?

Deciding whether to accept partial rent payments can be a tough decision laden with financial, legal, and interpersonal considerations. At the heart of it, the primary advantage of accepting partial payments is receiving some revenue, albeit reduced, and communicating understanding towards tenants' unique circumstances. It can foster goodwill, strengthen landlord-tenant relationships, and ensure some income.

However, regularly allowing partial payments might set an undesirable precedent, as tenants could begin to view it as a norm rather than an exception. From a legal standpoint, accepting partial payments might complicate eviction procedures and inadvertently waive certain rights of the landlord, primarily if local laws are not thoroughly understood or adhered to.

Furthermore, the administrative task of managing and keeping track of multiple payments, ensuring clear communication, and maintaining comprehensive records adds to the complexity. Platforms like Azibo offer a silver lining in this regard by streamlining the process, providing a seamless experience for both landlords and tenants.

Partial rent payment FAQs

Can you pay rent in split payments?

Tenants might inquire about making partial rent payments at times, especially during financial difficulties like unexpected expenses or job loss. Whether or not a landlord allows tenants to make partial payments depends on the lease agreement. It's essential for both the landlord and tenant to have a signed agreement specifying the conditions for such arrangements to avoid misunderstandings later.

What is it called when you only pay part of the rent?

When a tenant pays only a portion of the rent due, it's commonly referred to as a partial rent payment. Handling partial payments can be complicated, and landlords typically prefer to receive the full payment to maintain consistent rental income. However, situations may arise where accepting a partial payment becomes necessary, especially if a tenant faces financial problems.

What is the greatest risk in accepting a partial rent payment?

Accepting partial rent payments can pose a significant risk to landlords. Once a partial payment is accepted, it might complicate the eviction process should the tenant fail to settle the remaining balance. By accepting a partial payment, the landlord might inadvertently extend the grace period, delaying potential eviction proceedings. Landlords must be cautious and clear about terms, including due dates and late fees, to manage these risks effectively. It's also crucial to communicate with tenants regarding the outstanding balance and when the full rent payment is expected.

Note: Landlords managing multiple properties or facing frequent requests for partial rent payments might benefit from clear policies or guidelines on rent collection, including managing situations where a tenant owes rent or has made late rent payments.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at Azibo.com. While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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