Taking Tenants To A Small Claims Court

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on July 24, 2006 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

If you are a career landlord, then unfortunately there will probably be many an occasion when you will have to take a tenant to the small claims court, either because they have breached the lease agreement, or you have been failed to negotiate the damage done to your property. Perhaps, all efforts, such as, attempts at mediation have also proved unsuccessful, which leaves you only with the last option of suing your tenant for damages to your rental property in a small claims court.

While, particulars vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, one can use the small claims court for seeking damages below $2,500/-. Before filing a claim, it would be a good idea to find out what your state or city mandates are for your case type. It is important for you to get this information as some cities / states have instituted landlord / tenant courts solely dedicated to hearing disputes between tenants and landlords.

While, a victory in court is not guaranteed, a landlord can take certain steps to increase his / her chances of winning, such as the following:

  1. Prompt pursual of legal remedies. Like other court cases, even small claims court cases are subject to statutes of limitations. All offences have different time limits; therefore, landlords should ensure they do not wait too long before going to court. Pursuing a case when the evidence is fresh, most certainly will help you to win the case.
  2. Know the rights of a landlord. As individual states and cities have varying landlord / tenant laws, a landlord should research and have in-depth knowledge of his / her state / city laws to ensure he / she actually has a case.
  3. Contact the court house i.e. the local small claims court to find out the details about bringing your dispute to court.
  4. File a claim. Pay the filing fee, which is usually $25/- for the small claims court, though this may vary, and hand over your paperwork.
  5. Collate documentation. Maintaining proper records is the best thing a landlord can to help his case. Tenant’s application, signed rental lease agreement, repair bills, pictures of your rental property before renting out versus pictures of damage incurred, log of tenant offences, when they occurred, including other related information should be furnished in court. Too much is always better then too little.
  6. Rehearsing the presentation. In small claims courts, a landlord will be asked to present his side of the events that took place. Prepare your presentation well ahead of time, organise your documentation date wise to assist in the preparation.
  7. Attend the hearing. Attend the hearing with confidence, you are well prepared and can present your case in its best light. The rest is for the judge to decide, as to whose claim is right or wrong.

The best solution for landlords to avoid expensive litigation is to screen tenants well before signing a rental lease with them. Visit www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services.

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