If the landlord’s goal is to remove a non-paying tenant, then the landlord should not accept a partial rent payment during the 3 day notice period. When a landlord serves a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit on a tenant in California, the landlord should not accept a partial rent payment from the tenant. For example, if the amount of rent due is $1,500, the landlord should accept nothing less than the full $1,500 from the tenant.
If the landlord accepts a partial payment during the 3 day notice period, the acceptance would cancel the 3 day notice. The landlord would be forced to draft and serve a new 3 day notice on the tenant, thereby resetting the 3 day notice period.
If the landlord’s goal is to allow the tenant to remain in the property, then the landlord can accept a partial rent payment, but the landlord would be required to serve a new 3 day notice to pay rent or quit for the balance of the rent owed.
In most eviction cases that are based on nonpayment of rent, the landlord’s goal should be to receive full rent when due. In order to evict a non-paying tenant, landlords are advised to not accept partial rent payments during the 3 day notice period.
On a different issue, and the topic of another blog post, is whether a landlord should accept rent AFTER the 3 day notice period expires and after commencement of an unlawful detainer action. The answer is “no.” If the landlord accept ANY rent after commencement of the unlawful detainer action, the acceptance of any rent whatsoever will likely cause the landlord to lose the eviction case.