The Florida legislature amended Florida Statute, section 83.56 in recent years to require what Florida court decisions essentially required through a chain of cases on the question of, what can a landlord do when a tenant pays partial rent after being served a 3 day notice demanding the tenant to pay rent or vacate?
FS 83.56(5)(a) states in relative part, “If partial rent is accepted [by the landlord] after posting the notice for nonpayment, the landlord must:
“1. Provide the tenant with a receipt stating the date and amount received and the agreed upon date and balance of rent due before filing an action for possession;
2. Place the amount of partial rent accepted from the tenant in the registry of the court upon filing the action for possession; or
3. Post a new 3-day notice reflecting the new amount due.”
Option (1) allows the landlord to accept partial rent and still file an eviction, but the landlord must give the tenant a receipt stating the amount of rent paid and the date paid. The purpose of this is so that the court can easily determine rent if the tenant defends the eviction action and order the tenant pay that outstanding rent before allowing the tenant to defend the eviction action. This option presumes that the landlord would rather evict the tenant than to work out a resolution to keep the tenant, but it also allows the landlord to mitigate his losses by accepting the partial rent payment.
Option (2) allows the landlord, again, to file an eviction for non-payment of rent after receiving partial payment of rent. Like option (1), the landlord must put the partial payment of rent into the court registry so the court knows the outstanding rent the tenant must deposit into the court registry if the tenant contests the eviction. It also allows the court to disperse the partial rent paid into the court registry to the landlord once the eviction is ordered and the landlord prevails in the eviction. This option, however, appears to be least efficient of the three options, because for the landlord to receive any rent monies, he must not only file the eviction but also prevail, which will take a period of time to accomplish. Option (2), like (1), also presumes the landlord would rather evict the tenant than to work out a resolution with the tenant to remain in the property.
Option (3) allows the landlord to accept partial rent and turn right around and serve an updated 3 day notice with the unpaid balance. This option is a very practical approach to the property management business, because essentially it allows the landlord to immediately mitigate any damages by accepting partial payment of rent while keeping the matter out of court and working a resolution with the tenant. Once the landlord serves the updated 3 day notice to pay, the matter could be resolved amicably when the tenant pays the rent balance, or the landlord can file an eviction if the tenant doesn’t pay rent or vacate as demanded. Of the three options, this option gives the landlord and tenant the most flexibility, because it presumes the parties do not want an eviction action filed immediately.
As a side topic to this article, the landlord needs to ensure that the 3 day notice is legally sufficient. Read this article
for that topic.