Rent collection partial or whole

6 Replies

I was asked recently if I accept partial payments or only whole when it comes to rent collection. I’m curious as to what particular reasons you wouldn’t collect partial payments. Thoughts?

@John Jackson Jr

Hi John! 

It seems like this is pretty situational based most of the time and the reason behind it. During COVID moratorium periods it was not so unheard of to accept partial payments - this is what tenants were supposed to be doing if at all possible to avoid nonpayment all together.  Evictions for nonpayment were virtually halted at this time anyway, so a partial was better than nothing it seemed in most cases. 

In most every other case however it seems a dangerous precedent to begin - this month a partial payment, next month or so a missing payment to be paid later altogether and it can be a bit of a mess to backtrack and get the positioning back as a 'serious' landlord in terms of rent again. Often it falls into , "Oh he/she (landlord) is pretty relaxed and won't mind if I'm late this month- they took a partial payment last month and it was no big deal". The classic children's book "If you give a Mouse a Cookie" can offer the best insight on this (kidding...kind of) 

Once this road begins that's when other things can happen as well and turn into  a game of he said she said. We've had tenants offer things like "Oh, you're here for the rent- yeah we don't have that at the moment but here's some fresh (blank) we've just made, you want some?" Well there you go, you're instantly dealing with someone who can know the ins and outs of renting better than a landlord - technically this can fall under a barter system and turns into "Nope- I made them x,y,z and we were square on rent last month" - never accept anything (and if you're dealing with certain tenants they will try to give you just about anything they can in being 'nice'- nope all for a reason haha) but funds at any time would be my advice and the full amount due. 

It's really hard when you see someone struggling at times to not accept a partial payment but it seems 9 times out of 10 never a good can to open as it most often leads to other issues down the line. Once you start derailing from contract terms, it can be very difficult to go back. 

Hope that helps!

@John Jackson Jr

Sometimes it can be easier for certain people to pay their rent with partial payments if they aren’t great at saving money. If I understand correct they are referring to making say weekly or biweekly payments to get you the monthly amount.

In some states, collecting even a portion of the rent legally obligates you to keep the tenant. If a tenant is three months behind on rent and you start the eviction process, accepting a $100 payment could derail your attempts to evict. For this reason, some Landlords will only accept payment in full.

If I have a tenant that's behind, I will sometimes set up a payment plan to help them catch back up. The plan is written, with hard deadlines and we start the eviction process if they fail. No late notices, no calls begging them for payment, no late fees. They avoid eviction by agreeing to a plan, but one failure and they're headed to eviction.