Tenant only paid half the rent and I want to send 5 day or quit

18 Replies

My tenant has only paid half of the rent. Per my lease rent is due on the 1st, late on the 6th. They pay by direct bank transfer. I'm pretty sure I can proceed with sending a pay or quit notice and assess the late fee of 10% of the rent, but just need a stupid check. The property is in Virginia, and I live five hours away. 

@Ian Lord Yes send an invoice with the 5 day pay or quit stating that they owe the remaining X amount with your late fee and follow through if payment isn't received.

Study and learn the appropriate state landlord tenant regulations if you want to do it right.

Based on the circumstances you should be seriously looking to get rid of this tenant. If you decide to accept his payment should he ever pay late again do not give him the option to pay otherwise you are teaching him that late payment is allowed. Terminate him for being to stupid to learn.

Ian, Did you call the tenant to find out why he only paid 1/2 of the rent?  I would at communicate with him before threatening to kick his butt out...   I would be send him an invoice to get the rest of the money, but communicating with them will be beneficial in the long run.  It is too expensive to get rid and replace a tenant.

Hi @Ian Lord . Yes, you can/should send the P or Q. You might also explain to them that it's coming, and that if things are paid in full within the time frame specified you will be happy to stop the process.

Thanks, I just got a response saying her payday isn't until the 18th. Claimed vague issues about health concerns. Honestly the tenant has been a pain in my butt since day one. They killed an apple tree in the first few months. They have accused me of endangering their child because of a poorly functioning AC unit, the cause of which was from them failing to change the filters for 45 days. The tenant has only paid on time or early four times in the last 14 months. I think I made a mistake in tenant screening, but can get better quality tenants in the property. I've found a process server who will deliver a P or Q tomorrow for $75. 

Originally posted by @Ian Lord :

My tenant has only paid half of the rent. Per my lease rent is due on the 1st, late on the 6th. They pay by direct bank transfer. I'm pretty sure I can proceed with sending a pay or quit notice and assess the late fee of 10% of the rent, but just need a stupid check. The property is in Virginia, and I live five hours away. 

 Your going to have to wait until next month to evict them. You cannot evict a tenant if you have accepted a partial payment of rent for that month.

This is why I would NEVER allow tenants to pay into an account. In the event you do file an eviction, if they make a partial payment that could stall your case.  If you do file the eviction, and they pay $100 into the account, then what? That could force you to start out from square one.

I make tenants pay by cashier check. Payments must be postmarked by the 5th to receive an early payment discount. If the rent is $1200, they can deduct $75 if postmarked by that date. This gives them the incentive to pay early. I don't charge late fees.

@James Wise

Thank you for stating that! I've seen about a half dozen people tell me or others to never accept partial payment, but no one has ever explained why. That right there is reason enough for me to never accept partial payment.

Virginia allows the landlord to accept rent with reservation and continue eviction proceedings.

In our market and on according to our lease, the 6th day the pay or quit goes out and the late fee is applied.

Check to be sure but here if landlord accepts even $1 the tenant can't be evicted because the court sees it as an understood agreement. Their argument would be well, you accepted it so obviously it was ok. 

Call, text, email, go visit...get the rest of your money and if they can't pay get them out asap, smells like trouble brewing.

Hi @Ian Lord

Accepting a partial payment, without a partial payment agreement in place can hold things up in court. I allow tenants to direct deposit their rent as well. On advice from our attorney in AZ, I refunded the partial payment and sent a 5 Day Notice to Pay or Quit. By refunding the partial payment, you aren't "accepting" it and you can proceed with eviction. I would recommend double checking with a local attorney who specializes in landlord/tenant law. They can help you with the eviction and ensure you get rid of this awful tenant once and for all. After doing this for 10 years and managing thousands of tenants, I've never handled an eviction myself. If you have ANY other questions, don't hesitate to ask. Good Luck! 

I would respectfully request those not licensed in the state of Virginia to not give legal advice, as it is a class 1 misdemeanor in my state.

That said; A breach for failure to pay rent, whatever form that may take, pursuant to the lease agreement, allows a landlord to move forward with a 5 day pay or quit notice in VA. I would note that $75 is a bit steep of a service fee though. I would also note, VA law requires reservation notices to be in writing.

My recommendation; consult with a local LL/T attorney to help you in pursuing this eviction if you decide to go that route. I am concerned about the vague allusions to health, and what kind of defenses they may want to claim. Do it right, hire counsel. 

Thanks everyone. 

VA Code says in part:

 55-248.34:1. Landlord's acceptance of rent with reservation.

A. Provided the landlord has given written notice to the tenant that the rent will be accepted with reservation, the landlord may accept full or partial payment of all rent and receive an order of possession from a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to an unlawful detainer action filed under Article 13 (§ 8.01-124 et seq.) of Chapter 3 of Title 8.01 and proceed with eviction under § 55-248.38:2

Generally speaking VA seems to be a very pro-landlord state compared to other places such as my home state of California.

Good news. The P or Q letter sent a message and the tenant paid the second half of the rent plus the late fee without too much complaint. They have informed me that they will not renew their lease which expires at the end of June. My old neighbors are more than happy to let me know if anything odd happens at the house between now and then. Thanks for all the help guys! 

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