Whether you are the owner of a single rental unit or an owner of several rental units, Florida law is the same. Section 83.56(5)(a) of the Florida Statutes clearly states that if “the landlord accepts rent with actual knowledge of a noncompliance by the tenant or accepts performance by the tenant of any other provision of the rental agreement that is at variance with its provisions … the landlord … waives his or her right to terminate the rental agreement or to bring a civil action for that noncompliance.” (emphasis added).

So what does this section actually mean? It means that a landlord should refuse anything less than a full rent payment no matter how badly the landlord feels about a particular tenant’s circumstances. Otherwise, the landlord will have trouble down the road when he or she is ready to evict the tenant.

You probably heard the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished. Well, that is exactly what will happen if you, the landlord, accept anything less than the full payment from your tenant. Your kindness in accepting a partial payment will not be rewarded.

When you are finally ready to evict the tenant for noncompliance and wish to recoup your losses from the previously accepted partial payment, the law is clear – you will not be able to do so. The law deems your acceptance of anything less than the full payment as you waiving your right to full rent payment at that time. So if you accept a partial payment from your tenant, you cannot evict your tenant for that particular noncompliance.

Consequently, when a landlord receives a partial payment from the tenant, that landlord should immediately return that partial payment to the tenant and proceed with the eviction.

NEWS FLASH: The Florida’s Landlord-Tenant Statute has recently been amended. This most recent change is one of the most extensive changes that the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act has undergone in many years.

Among the changes is how the landlord can now accept a partial rent payment from the tenant after posting a three-day notice (the notice for nonpayment) and also proceed with an eviction that same month if the landlord follows the procedure that is provided in the statute. In particular, section 83.56(5)(a) of the Florida Statutes provides the following procedure that the landlord must follow to proceed with an action for eviction after partial rent payment has been accepted from the tenant:

  1. Provide the tenant with a receipt for the partial rent accepted. The receipt must contain the date and amount of the partial payment received and the agreed upon date and balance of rent due before filing an action for possession/eviction;
  2. Place the amount of the partial rent accepted from the tenant into the Court Registry if an eviction is filed; OR
  3. Post a new 3-day notice reflecting the new amount due.

In light of the significant changes that the Landlord-Tenant statute has recently undergone, it is crucial for the landlords to review their current lease agreements and modify them accordingly.