Can You Sue a Tenant for Damage to the Property After they Leave?

It is without question that some Tenants fail to leave the property in good condition when they vacate.  There are cases that it is left completely damaged.  While unfortunate, a Landlord can sue a Tenant for Damage to the property after they leave. If you have questions about your rights as a Landlord, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA at (954) 990-7552.

The Right to Sue a Tenant for Damage to the Property After they Leave

Some Landlords do not inspect their property during the lease.  As a result, they are not aware if there is damage.  This can create problems if the Tenant leaves before the end of the lease or a walkthrough does not take place.  After entering the property, a Landlord may discover damage.  After assessing the amount, they should put a claim on the Deposit. If the damage exceeds the amount of the deposit, they need to send the Tenant a demand letter.  It should inform them that the Landlord will be filing a lawsuit if they fail to pay for the damage.

Upon receiving the Letter, a Tenant can decide to pay for the damage or choose not to settle. If they do not resolve it, the Landlord can file a lawsuit.  Unlike an Eviction, a Tenant will have 20 days to respond.   The Court will set the case for mediation to allow the opportunity to resolve the matter. If the case is not settled, a trial date will be scheduled.

What Helps the Landlord’s Case?

Prior to suing, a Landlord needs to make sure they have enough evidence.  What does this mean?  They need to show the difference of the condition before the Tenant moved in and when they moved out.  If they do not have photos, it may weaken their case.  A Court may find that the Tenant did not cause the damage.

While documentation is important, it is also beneficial to be able to locate the Tenant.  In other words, a Landlord may have a strong case but without serving the Tenant, they may never recover.  Therefore, they should always have the Tenant’s employment information throughout the lease.  This will help find them even if they are unable to serve them at their new address.

Can a Landlord Sue while the Tenant lives there?  

Absolutely.  If a Landlord discovers that the Tenant has damaged the property during the lease, they can bring an action.  The advantage is that they will be able to serve them much easier.  Even if the Tenant decides to vacate the property because they are being sued, they are still a party to the lawsuit.  If they choose not to fight it, a Landlord can obtain a judgment against them.  As a result, they will have the opportunity to collect.  This includes garnishing the Tenant’s wages or freezing their bank account.

On the other hand, if you file a lawsuit while they live there, you will have an unhappy Tenant.  In other words, while you have the right to sue, they may decide to leave or cause further destruction to the property.  As a result, you will lose rent and additional costs.

If you need to sue a Tenant for Damage to the Property after they leave, contact the Law Office of Brian P. Kowal, PA.  We can help you understand your rights as well as provide aggressive representation.