Oct 22 2015

When to Sue for Unpaid Rent

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Can I sue my tenant for unpaid rent?

It is the rare real estate attorney that has not been posed this question by one or more of his clients. The ability to sue for unpaid rents and leases allows landlords and property owners to gain what was rightfully theirs. Though many states work to protect tenant’s rights, most stand behind the authority of the landlord to hold up the written contract as binding and seek sufficient recourse.

When a tenant leaves without paying any back rent that was due, the security deposit can be used to cover the amount due. If the deposit is insufficient in covering the rent due and any property damages caused by the tenant, filing a suit against them in small claims court would be the next proper step. The rules regarding these suits vary from state to state however so check with a Massachusetts real estate attorney for advice and assistance in doing so.

If a tenant moves out without notice, breaking their lease, their security deposit can also be used to cover the unpaid amount. Lease breakers can be also sued for any monies that the deposit does not cover including any losses suffered by the amount of time that the lease was not fulfilled. For example, if your tenant broke their 12 month lease after only nine months, the landlord has a right to recover the last three months of unpaid rents.

Though courts do support landlords in the instances of broken leases and back due rent, landlords are still held to certain obligations. The property in question must have been kept in livable condition, with proper repairs having been completed in a timely manner (though the tenant has a responsibility to not destroy said property). Though the landlord is likely to be awarded the loss of a broken lease, you must still make an effort to re-rent the property as quickly as possible as a sign of good faith that you are making an effort to recoup your losses.

Landlords and property owners needing representation while seeking damages or losses against a tenant should contact the Law Offices of Alan H. Segal at 781-214-7129 to schedule an appointment.


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