Acceptance of Partial Payment by Landlords

Scenario #1 – Notice to Quit (Termination of Tenancy)

    When a notice to terminate the tenancy is sent (not merely a notice for non-payment of rent), any acceptance of rent for any time past the expiration date of the notice will “reset the clock” and void your notice.

    EX: Larry Landlord sends Tina Tenant a Notice to Quit / Termination of Tenancy on October 7th, 2013. This notice states that Tina’s tenancy is being terminated and Tina must vacate the premises no later than November 8, 2013.

    1. Larry can accept October’s rent without jeopardizing his right to evict Tina.
    2. Larry can absolutely NOT accept any rental amount for a time period after November 8, 2013, otherwise Larry’s notice to Tina has been waived.

Scenario #2 – Demand for Possession for Non-Payment of Rent

    If this type of demand is sent out, which by its nature is for back rent, the acceptance of a partial sum of that back rent will NOT “reset the clock.”

    EX: Larry Landlord sends a Demand for Possession for Non-Payment on October 1st for back rent (say for August, September, and October). If Larry Landlord accepted partial payments covering only August and September rent, but not September or October, you could still proceed to court based on the October 1st Demand.

    In essence, only payment in full of the Demand amount will negate your notice to the tenant and prevent you from proceeding with your case.

Scenario #3 – Complaint filed for Termination of Tenancy

    The same rules apply as set forth in scenario #1. Landlord’s cannot accept rent for any time period exceeding the notice except by order of the court.

Scenario #4 – Complaint filed for Non-Payment of Rent

    Once the complaint has been filed with the court only payment in full of all amounts due and owing as of the date of the scheduled court hearing will prevent you from proceeding with your case.

    EX: Larry Landlord files a summons and complaint for non-payment of rent alleging Tina Tenant owes September and October rent; the scheduled court hearing is on November 15th. On November 7th Tina Tenant pays Larry Landlord September and October rent in full. Larry Landlord can still pursue his case for November’s rent and any court costs even though November’s rent was not due when the demand was sent nor was it due when the Complaint was filed.

    * This letter is intended only as a cursory review of a portion of the laws applicable to landlord and tenant dealings and is not intended to replace the counsel of an attorney. Before taking any action in any landlord-tenant matter; contact an attorney.

The Law Offices of Aaron D. Cox, PLLC