Should I send a notice of default?

15 Replies

My tenant and his wife are teachers and have 4 kids. He has good credit (>700) and she has poor credit. They have been paying on time for the past 6 months and now are requesting to make half the rent payment now along with half of the late fee, and then pay the remaining balance next month. They say that both of their vehicles broke down and the repairs totaled over $2,500. I would like to help them and don’t mind accepting half the rent this month, but I’m also wondering if I should mail them a notice of default just in case the late payments start to accumulate and become more and more delayed. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thank You.

Just send them a note confirming the repayment for the remaining amount of the rent. If you can afford it, you may want to suggest they pay half of what is owed in Jan and the other half in Feb to make it easier on them.  If they don't have the $2500 to cover the car repairs along with their regular bills, chances are they don't have a lot of money saved up.  I would also waive the late fee this once. 

I am not a property manager, but I don't accept partial rent payments, and I issue 5 day non payment notice on the 6th day of the month in person and certified mail.  I'm training my tenants to pay housing first and put the car repairs on the credit card when those things happen.  It may be harsh. But its the way I run my business.  My rents are pretty close to my monthly costs so I cant really afford to pay half of the cost out of my pocket.  

Hi Joel,

Typically we do not accept partial payments and here in Arizona we have the legal right to reject a rent payment even if it is short 1 cent. However, if I do accept a partial payment for the month I have waived my right to collect, send notice, or start an eviction process for that month (rental period). 

However, there are often valid reasons to accept partial payments from tenants. I first make sure to have a conversation with the tenant to make sure that they will be able to actually get caught up in the future. If I believe that they can, then I create a promise-to-pay agreement with them. This can be structured how you want but includes specific amounts due on specific dates. It also maintains my ability to start eviction processes if they fail to make a payment on a specified date, even if the date was within the same rental period. 

Of course and good luck. On another note, maybe look up some local rental assistance agencies or local city/state resources for tenants. I always like to send my notices along with some information on where they can possibly go get rental assistance from. 

Usually partial rent is a bad idea but if they told you upfront ideally before due I would let it slide this time.  In these times be glad you are getting anything and don’t give them reason to look up the cdc declaration.  This is a great way to see the character of your tenant but you have to be firm on dates.  If they are late again I would file they are teachers so their pay has not been cut.  

@Angel Ginnett

Why would you not accept a partial payment? I’d much rather have $500 than $0. And they’re more likely to get caught up owing half a month than a full month on top of next month

Once a tenant falls behind they very rarely catch up. That is just the reality. I would hold their feet to the fire and see what happens.

You only have a 6 month history with these tenants which isn’t that long. Find out if they aren’t paying you because they don’t have money or they are just prioritizing you last because they think they can. The only way to do that is to not cut them a break. 

My previous tenant fell behind on rent at start of COVID/in March. Their excuse was 2 weeks work schedule, I don't think they really had an issue. We were also having some maintenance issues, that were not in our control, which they dealt with. We let them pay partial rent and waived all late fees because we knew they have paid on time for 2 plus years. They paid back everything they owed. YMMV.

Typically, we don't allow partial payments after the rent is late. Under current Covid moratorium rules they are not protected because they still have a job. 

Notice to quit or pay/eviction notice typically sets people who make excuses right, and ensures that they make rent a priority. People typically get really scared after seeing that notice, then we have to calm them down, telling them it's a warning and a step before court. Most pay or leave asap.

Thank You Matt MMichael NotoSteve K, and Joe Kelly

I think I'm going to learn hard way with this tenant. We signed a "spromise-to-pay agreement" with the remaining December rent due January 1st (along with January's rent). 

Part of me wants to put Joe Kelly's comments in bold in all future leases.

"House is first if you don't like sleeping outside. I don't care if you have to walk to work, I don't care if you have to hunt squirrels in the yard to eat, if you want to sleep in a house you have to pay that first!"