With rent being paid electronically and banks automatically depositing money, how can a landlord prevent accepting a partial rent payment from a tenant who is being evicted?

I know that by accepting partial rent after you’ve started eviction, your case

will be thrown out in court, in many states. However, many tenants pay electronically and banks now automatically depositing money without any intervention by the user/account holder. The bank used to require a user/account holder to accept payment. This is no longer the case, and it appears there’s no way to prevent money from being deposited automatically. Could this, in theory, allow a tenant to never get evicted?

Asked on September 17, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, it does not, so long as the landlord stays on top of his/her accounts. "Acceptance" of rent does not mean that someone (in the old days) slid a check in an envelope under the landlord's door, or dropped it in a lock-box, nor does it mean (today) that the tenant auto-deposited it in the landlord's account. What it means is that the landlord, upon receiving it, the "accepted" it--cashed or deposited a check or money order; left an auto-deposit in his/her account. But if the landlord returns money deposited, etc. without his or her consent to the tenant--preferably also sending them a letter (or email or text) explaining what they are doing and why--then the fact that the tenant slip the money under the door or deposited it into the account is negated.

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