Landlords: 5 Signs You Should File a Lawsuit Against Your Tenant

Are you fed up with a tenant and wondering if you should file a lawsuit? Lawsuits are a big deal. Not only will you have to pay a fee to file the paperwork, but you’ll need to spend time and energy gathering and organizing your evidence.

Lawsuits can get expensive quickly. If you don’t feel comfortable representing yourself, you’ll need to pay for an attorney. Some attorneys will work for a flat fee and make one or two appearances in court, but many charge $300+ per hour.

Filing a lawsuit involves extensive time, energy, and money. If you’re going to sue your tenant, make sure it’s worth the effort. Some situations aren’t worth pursuing in court, but here are some signs that indicate it’s time to file a lawsuit against your tenant.

  1. You’ve noticed severe property damage

Have you noticed severe property damage? Does your tenant deny causing the damage? If you’re looking at severe damage that your tenant’s security deposit is unlikely to cover, a lawsuit might be your only chance to recover the cost of repairs.

Severe damage can include ruining furniture in a furnished unit, heavy smoke or fire damage, large holes in the wall, broken doors, missing screens, and other random issues.

Another form of damage is untreated wear and tear. Sometimes, untreated wear and tear can become damage when your tenant doesn’t inform you about a problem.

Check with your lawyer to see if you can increase your tenant’s security deposit mid-lease. Some states allow you to increase the security deposit for month-to-month tenants. If you can’t get your tenant to pay an additional security deposit, a lawsuit will be your only recourse.

  1. You’ve given multiple notices to vacate and they haven’t moved

If you’ve been trying to evict a tenant for a while, but they’re not moving, a lawsuit will be your only hope of making them leave.

First, make sure you’ve given legal notices to vacate and you’ve done everything by the book according to your state’s laws. If you’ve done everything legally, file an unlawful detainer lawsuit against your tenant.

If you don’t file a lawsuit to get your tenant out, they’ll probably never leave. However, once a court rules in your favor, they’ll have a certain number of days to vacate, and then you can have the police escort them off the property.

The sooner you file an unlawful detainer lawsuit, the sooner you’ll get your problem tenant off your property.

  1. Your tenant has stolen your property

Never allow a tenant to get away with stealing your property. If they steal from you once, they’ll do it again. Get them off your property as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t already, file a police report against your tenant to establish a strong foundation for your lawsuit. If your tenant stole something of high value, sue them to recover damages related to the theft. Otherwise, skip straight to giving them a notice to vacate, and if they don’t leave, file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to get them off your property.

  1. Your tenant has harmed someone or your pet

Accidents happen, but not every injury is an accident. If you believe your tenant has intentionally injured someone or your pet on your property, a lawsuit might be the right move. Even if your tenant’s negligence led to an injury, they can be held responsible in a court of law.

This applies to injuries to:

  • You
  • Your child
  • Your family member
  • Your guest
  • Your pet
  • Another tenant

Ultimately, don’t hesitate to evict a tenant who poses a danger to people and pets on your property.

  1. Your tenant willfully violates their lease terms

Does your tenant ignore their lease terms? If they’re ignoring small things like putting items in the window sill when it’s supposed to stay clear, it’s not worth pursuing in court.

However, if they’re committing serious infractions like parking illegally, blocking other tenants in with their vehicle, or blasting music at 3am, they probably won’t stop until you take them to court. Thankfully breach of lease is one of many legal reasons to evict your tenant.

Don’t give second chances to problem tenants

It’s unfortunate when any landlord has to deal with a problem tenant. If you’re struggling with a disruptive or dangerous tenant, don’t give them any second chances. Serve a proper notice to vacate and if they don’t leave, evict them through the court.