The general rule in community association collections is that any payment on a delinquent account is a good thing, even if the payment is for less than the full amount owed. However, depositing a payment of less than the full amount owed can be dangerous if the owner includes language on the check or other negotiable instrument, or accompanying letter, indicating that the owner intends the payment to be payment in full. The danger stems from the legal principle of accord and satisfaction.
Under the doctrine of accord and satisfaction, if a genuine dispute exists between a debtor and a creditor over the amount due, and the debtor pays the creditor less than the amount actually due upon the condition, either express or implied, that the payment is in full satisfaction of the creditor’s claim, and the creditor accepts and retains the money, then the law deems that the debtor has paid the creditor in full. Thus, the creditor cannot seek additional payment from the debtor.