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Tenant Damages and Lawsuit

Posted by 15789465 on

Sometimes you have to sue a tenant to evict them, or to collect property damage, or both.  Please remember the following rule: "Should the injury to the real property be temporary, the measure of damages, as a general rule, is the loss of rental value during the time of the temporary injury plus an amount necessary to repair the injuries and place the property in the condition it was in immediately preceding the injury."  That is a quote from a 1987 Alabama Supreme Court case called Collins v. Windsor, reported at 505 So.2d 1205. So, in addition to calculating the cost of repairs, be sure to also calculate how long it will take to complete the repairs before you can rent the property again, and the rent you will lose as a result.  Be sure to tell BOTH of those numbers to your lawyer, or to the judge, if you don't have a lawyer.

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4 comments

  • What is your view of trying to collect for the rest of the lease? Say they are six months into a year’s lease. do you think the court would go along with it. They did sign it and it was spelled out what the total of all 12 months would be. For me, I would try and release it ASAP, I just don’t like beating others down, but that is not to say there is anything wrong in trying it. They sure will hold you to the full 12 months, but as most of us knows, the public views of us are not good, and people feel it is ok to screw over a landlord, Well at least we are not lawyers, you talk about some lieing no good peace of ****, but I will not start on that. Good infor on the element of damages, I like reading your stuff!!

    Robert Vesco on
  • I discovered a lot of people were missing out on that element of damages. I’m glad to help!

    Denise L. Evans on
  • Thanks for that info. I didn’t realize that I could add the “down-time” to the recovery costs!!

    Travis Parker on
  • The prevailing opinion among lawyers seems to be that if you have an acceleration clause in your lease—a clause that says upon default, they owe all the rent for the remainder of the term—then you can collect rent that would have been due under the lease, even though an eviction order has been entered.

    Without that acceleration clause, the problem is this: The tenant pays you rent for possession. With an eviction, you terminate their rights to possession. No possessory rights after the eviction equals no rent due.

    BUT, if you accelerate all the rent BEFORE the eviction, then the tenant owes you a debt. You can get a judgment for the debt. It seems like splitting hairs, but that’s how it works. You must have that acceleration clause in your lease, though. You still have an obligation to “mitigate damages.” That means you must try to re-rent the unit to someone else, and give the tenant credit for the rent you collect. Suppose the tenant defaults, you accelerate, and they owe you 6 months of rent at $1,000 per month, July through December. On November 1 you rent the apartment/house to someone else for $800 a month. The former tenant gets a credit for $1,600 against the $6,000 of rent they owe you, the same as if they’d written you a check for $1,600.

    You are under no obligation to rent THAT particular unit to someone, instead of another vacant unit. In other words, if you have other vacancies, you are entitled to rent them first, before you rent something that will give the former tenant a credit.

    BTW, have you signed up for my new blog, at http://evanspropertymanagement.wordpress.com/? I’m moving all my landlord/tenant and property management stuff over to that one.

    Denise L. Evans on

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