Is accepting partial rental payments ever a good thing? Well, it is safe to say, NO! nothing good ever comes out of accepting partial rental payments. It is like Pandora's box; once opened, it releases the worst for you. Here is a detailed account of what happens when landlords start accepting partial rent payments.
What are Partial Rent Payments?
If you have been a landlord for long, you must have heard the infamous like "I will pay you the rest later, please accept half at the movement" This type of situation can never bid good for the landlord; it is always a sticky path that never lands the landlord on his feet.
You want to be the good guy and help your tenant, but to allow one, you will have to allow all. As a landlord, you must set a precedent that all renters will follow and accepting partial payments can't be a part of it, no matter how good a person you are.
Accepting Partial Rent Payments is a big no – Here's Why:
Most apprentice landlords are always up to accommodating their tenants. They want to make their tenants comfortable, be in their good books and offer all kinds of flexibility, and this also extends to accepting partial payments. But before being so kind and generous, remember that this is your business, your unit is your bread and butter, and you cannot bend the rules because there are always legal and financial consequences. Here are some of the reasons why you should never accept partial payments from your tenants.
It messes up the Eviction Process.
The most common reason for not accepting partial payments, and almost all landlords know this, is that it terminates the eviction process. Basically, if you do accept it, you will have to restart the whole eviction process. You cannot file for eviction because you did not get the full payment, and with partial payments, it is very hard to get the full payment because the tenant will keep on taking advantage of your kindness and keep asking you for a couple of more days.
So, after a bit, you are tired of excuses and frustrated about the long wait. Finally, you file for eviction, and everything is going smoothly. But the minute the lock-out date approaches, your tenant pays you a couple of dollars towards rent. And there goes the whole process. You will have to start again, from scratch, the whole thing. You are basically back at square one, with just a couple of dollars from the renter's pocket. Such hassle is not worth the kindness you showed to your tenant, hence wise-up and never accept partial payment. However, there are other reasons too.
Once you accept from one tenant, you cannot say no to the other, and if you do, you are in deep trouble because this comes under the category of discrimination. As a landlord, this is one bad decision. You do not want your other tenant to file for discrimination under the Fair Housing lawsuits and their attorney demanding your blood.
Whether you win or lose, there will be a dent in your reputation, not to mention your bank account. So, make sure you know what you are getting into by accepting partial payment from your tenants. as a landlord, you must treat all tenants equally, and if you let one bend the rules, be sure everyone will want to do the same.
Messes the Books
Do your books a favor and do not accept partial payments because you can never keep clean accounts if you keep accepting bits and pieces of the rental payment. Mont to mention the fact that there is also the matter of late fees. Receiving $200 here and $200 there, adjusting the rest to next month is too much of a hassle; it also messes up the books. It is too much to keep track of, especially if you have multiple units to take care of. From late or partial payments, you will be soon tracking priority debts; this will become a living nightmare real soon. The only way to keep your books tidy is to accept payments on time and in full in one go.
Late Fees and Unnecessary Arguments
Another thing that will drive you up the wall is the fact that tenants love to receive accommodation. But they never dole it out to the landlord. You may do them the kindness of accepting late rent of half rent, but they will not comply by handing over the late fees. You can avoid this by clearly stating in your lease agreement that the late fee becomes outstanding when the rent remains unpaid in full by the end of the grace period. But here is the truth, in most cases, the judge sides with the tenants more than the landlords. So, by accepting partial payments, you will find yourself in yet another sticky spot.
Your tenants will always push your boundaries; for renters, this is a common practice. As a landlord, it's your domain and hence up to you to set the limits and draw the line. Clearly state in your lease agreement that if the tenant fails to pay the rent at the given period, they will receive the eviction notice and stick to the rule. Always stay firm when it comes to boundaries; when the tenants see that you mean business, they will pay up in time. Mishaps still happen.
Be smart and have a proper rent collection system online for the next time. Software gives you complete control over declining payments; this way; no partial payment can go through. If you have not a system like this, you can ignore the check that comes in the mail, do not deposit the partial payment check. They can either pay in full or come collect the partial payment check. Stay firm on your ground, be polite and professional when declining their request, and give reference to the signed lease agreement.