What to Do if My Landlord Is Taking Me to Court for Unpaid Rent
Are you late on your rent? Are you so behind that you're on the verge of being sued? If you wake up in the morning, and the first thought you have is, "," take a deep breath. Here are some reasons a landlord might sue you and what to do if this happens.
Can Your Landlord Really Sue You?
If you have not kept up with paying your rent in full and on time, your . Unpaid rent is not the only reason a landlord might file suit against a tenant, however.
For What Reasons Can a Landlord Sue a Tenant?
Here are some other reasons a landlord can sue:
|Counter-Suing for Your Security Deposit||If you take your landlord to court because you believe they unfairly kept your security deposit, your landlord may file a countersuit to prove that they had every legal right to deduct any or all of your security deposit when you moved out.|
|Covering the Expense of Disposing of Your Abandoned Property||If you move out but don't take all of your belongings with you, your landlord may sue you for the expenses incurred in disposing of your abandoned property.|
|You Owe More Than the Security Deposit Due to Damage||If you move out of a rental unit that you left damaged, and your security deposit does not cover the cost of repair and remediation, your landlord can sue you in court and demand that you cover the whole expense.|
Other reasons could include:
- Recovering costs of finding a new tenant after an illegal move-out
- Recovering lost rent after an illegal move-out
- Another breach of the lease agreement
- Unpaid utility bills
Instead of Taking You to Court, a Landlord May Take Your Security Deposit
Typically, the security deposit paid by the tenant at the beginning of the rental agreement is held by the landlord until certain move-out standards are met. Instead of suing you, a landlord may withhold your security deposit. Also, if the tenant relinquishes residency, the landlord may retain part or all of the security deposit to:
- Cover cleanup expenses
- Cover repair costs
- Pay outstanding late fees
- Pay outstanding utility bills
- Satisfy any unpaid rent
Can a Landlord Sue You Without a Lease?
It may be harder for a property owner to collect unpaid rent from someone they never made a binding lease agreement with, but that doesn't mean they won't try. So yes, a landlord can indeed sue you, even if you never signed a lease.
A lack of lease is no guarantee that your landlord won’t ever sue you. Without a lease, a tenant may be evicted at the behest of the landlord. Also, the tenant may be sued for unpaid rent and holdover use, such as a friend taking over residency.
If your landlord threatens to take you to court, don't take it lightly. See how DoNotPay can help you protect your rights.
Can a Landlord Sue for Back Rent After Eviction?
Yes. If a tenant moves out, whether they left of their own volition or were evicted from the premises, the landlord may sue for back rent. Unless the tenant presents a rock-solid and credible defense, the landlord may prevail by simply stating the time periods for which rent remains unpaid. If you don’t show up in court, the landlord may win by default.
How Long Does a Landlord Have to Sue for Unpaid Rent?
As a general rule of thumb, a landlord retains the right to sue a rent-owing tenant for six years from the date the last rent payment became overdue. Joint tenants can be sued by a landlord by way of a contribution claim.
What to Do If Your Landlord Threatens to Take You to Court
The best way to deal with a litigious landlord is to prevent a day in court from ever happening in the first place. If you can afford an attorney who can work remotely, retain them but do prepare to pay a small fortune for their services. Hourly fees for skilled landlord-tenant lawyers range from $225 to $300 per hour.
A Better Way to Deal With a Litigious Landlord
If your landlord is taking you to court, don't ignore the problem. It will not get better on its own. DoNotPay can help you respond to a problematic landlord in a legal and effective way.
All you have to do is:
1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.
2. Select which issue applies to you.
3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.
4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process.
DoNotPay Manages Landlord-Tenant Issues So You Don't Have To
If you have landlord issues of any sort, contact DoNotPay without delay. We can help:
- File a complaint against a landlord
- Get your security deposit back from your landlord
- Inform you about your state's eviction laws
- Inform you of your rights if your landlord is threatening to evict you
- Learn about the renter’s rights that apply to you
- Send your landlord a letter regarding repairs
- Kick out your roommate
- Break your lease early
If your landlord is taking you to court, . We can assist with all sorts of life's big and little problems, and we're here to help 24/7.