Can my tenant sue me with the following reasons? She moved out 6 months ago.

18 Replies

My ex-tenet who moved out *7 months ago* texted me today and demand for a partial refund of her total rental payment (80%) she made for 2 years within 30 days or she will get a lawyer and sue me. 


#1
She mentioned that she was led to believe that she can use the living room when she first rent the bedroom. (Please note that almost everything are verbal, and we did not specify that you can/cannot use living room, but the rent was specifically for a bedroom, and the use of bathroom/kitchen is allow. she knew this on her first week, she complained about it, but we told her that this is out is it, and then she seems to be OK with it and stayed for...2 years.

#2
She mentioned that she was not allow to bring any guest/friend, we said we are no in favor of having strangers, especially male because...well, i'm a female, and she ignored and still manage to bring her boyfriend up a few times without permission. Now she is making this 1 of the reason of the sue.

#3
She mentioned that i'm bossy and having a landlord attitude, and threathen to evict her. There were serveral occasion that we got into unhappy situation, but i've never threaten to evict her, but i've asked her to move out with a 30 days notice if she can't bind to the rule and if she act immaturely.

#4
She mentioned that i made her made cash payment and she thinks that i've not been reporting it to IRS and she will sue me about this too. Can she use this as one of her point in the civil court? Everything were cash

Update: I'm more worried about #4, because i did not in fact report it to IRS because i think the rent was to cover the maintenance of my apartment, will the judge in favor of the tenet and ask me to refund all of the rental payment because of this? And please note that she moved out 6 months ago, will the judge accept this case since she no longer live here?

Yes people can sue over anything. That doesn't mean they will win. 

I doubt an attorney would take this on contingency and she probably doesn't have the money to file or pay an attorney. She will probably never sue.

She can report you to the IRS, but no court would award her anything because you didn't report income.

The fact she moved out 6 months ago is irrelevant.

I don't think she has any grounds to get anything from you. It wouldn't worry me.

Your best response is no response.  It's highly unlikely she will proceed.  Most likely she is looking for some kind of response, and then will try to shake you down for some amount of "settlement" money.  The entire premise sounds ridiculous.

If it's an email, ignore it.  If it's a text or voicemail, call your cell phone company and have her blocked as a potential inbound caller.

Do you own or rent the house? If you own the house it is "income" and should be on your taxes. If it is rent to "my" understanding, not a CPA, you are splitting bills and don't have to report it!

As for the others, 7 months is alot of time for those reasons. While everyone can sue for ANYTHING, I don't see how she can get away with anything from what you said. I would stand my ground. Eveyrthing in writing, keep it civili, professional and stand your ground. I would email not txt! but txt is fine too

Dear X,

I hope this finds you well after 7 months. I am sorry that you feel this way. I thought we left under amendable terms. To my understanding everything that you have described is not relevant in what you are asking and any refunds or issues has expired under the applicable statues of limitations. Please note that if you feel the need to take it to a lawyer or court, I will be required to pursue the case to the fullest extent of the law including, the repayment for my legal fees, and other penalties if we win.

Thank you,

X

I have "professional" but standing up for yourself is worth alot. I have had alot of unhappy tenants but if your right. They usually know it, that doesn't stop them from asking.

As others have said she can sue for anything, winning is another matter. I doubt very much that she would actually take this to court, and if she did there is not a good chance she'd get anywhere.  

I would completely ignore this. I actually think any response is likely to make it worse not better. As you said everything was verbal, and as such as it is right now it's your word against hers. If you respond you're creating a paper trail that could be used in some way to validate her claims. Without knowing the terms around issue #4 it's hard to say what if any basis that has and again I wouldn't respond. 

Also I'm no lawyer so take this for what it's worth, but her mentioning the IRS and demanding payment to keep from reporting you is extortion which is a crime in itself. So were she to take this to court I'd make sure your lawyer gets a copy of that text. Again at this point I'd completely ignore her, don't respond at all. If she does decide to attempt a suit at that point get an attorney to handle her if needed and keep you from saying something that could be used by her to justify her claim.

@Jj Yip  if she was a "tenant" and you were collecting "rent", isn't that income?  It seems to me it would be but I don't know... I'm just asking. 

I had another thought @Jj Yip  I would also seriously consider not ever using the term "tenant" if you discuss this with anyone or end up in court. Reason being if this was a roommate situation (which it sounds like) then there are certain landlord tenant laws which are likely not applicable to you. 

Case in point. Under federal fair housing you cannot discriminate based on gender, meaning I can't deny an applicant because they are male. However if you live in the home, there are allowances for additional legal discrimination because you may not wish to live with a member of the opposite sex. 

Also as @Elizabeth Colegrove mentioned you may be able to make the case for this being a bill share or rent split type situation not "income" that you would have declared (I don't know but it is a possibility). So assuming she rented a room in your house/apartment I would always from here on out refer to her as a roommate because that in and of itself may make this situation be viewed in a different light by the court (should you end up there).

@Account Closed  

From all the research I have done it depends on your relationship to the building per the IRS. Disclaimer, haven't looked into this recently, i thought it was weird enough that it has stuck with me. Mostly because I was ticket I would have to declare income if I house hacked lol

 If your renting it, than it is not income because it is splitting the bill. Think sharing a family plan on the cell phones with your family. This isn't income.

On the other hand if you own the house. than you are building equity, that is consider income. That is where the pay tax comes in. 

The thing I have heard from others is that you can give 12k (approx.) a year to another person. Not tax applicable. So some people make these payments a "gift" but as a landlord that opens a whole new can of warms. Ie is a lease than applicable, etc. Personally if it is a owned house and therefore needs to pay tax on. I declare it. Make your life easier lol

Thanks! @Elizabeth Colegrove 

If you own the home and she did pay you rent, it would be very easy to speak to an accountant or just submit an amended return if you do your own taxes, declaring the extra income you received from her and pay tax on it as even if she did not sue you, she may still submit a complaint to the IRS which may or may not lead to an audit.  If you have related expenses to declare, you may not owe much, anyway (although I think it might change your homeowner sales exemption when you sell).  And if it does lead to an audit, you can always pay the extra tax and penalties involved after they audit you.  As far as everything else, I would simply not respond as others have said.   If she actually does sue, I would have a lawyer send a letter explaining you are prepared to countersue for whatever your rights are -- legal fees, harassment, etc., whatever your lawyer feels is appropriate.  

I will only say that I wouldn't respond to her, especially in writing.  You never know when something you put in writing can be turned around on you by an astute lawyer and if this does make it to court, the less evidence her side has, the better; regardless of whether it's legit or not.  As my old boss use to say, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with ********." And some lawyers do. 

If you insist on responding to her, my advice would be to have a lawyer draft a letter.

Geez!  It sure takes all kinds, doesn't it?  I'm also in the ignore it camp.  No way she is hiring an attorney, unless she got one for free somewhere.  Maybe she will take you to small claims court, where she will in all likelihood lose all or most of her case.  Bottom line, if she didn't like it, why did she live there for two years?  At least that is what I would ask if I was a judge.

I think #4 shows her ignorance the best.  She can report you to the IRS, sure.  Which they will probably ignore.  But she has zero standing to sue you for reporting/not reporting your (maybe) income.

I mean, can you imagine if the IRS actually opened "investigations" based on every accusation a disgruntled ex-spouse/lover, roommate, neighbor, former employee, etc., etc., etc. made?  In fact, I've decided that is my new dream job.  I want to work for the IRS evaluating revenge accusations submitted by whackadoos.  You KNOW that has to be some good entertainment!  

I agree with everyone on ignoring her. That is your best response. Responding will only incite more and really she has no leg to stand on to sue. Don't worry about it! It'll be fine.

Seems like a shake down to me. I would not worry too much until the papers come in the mail.

Rules in California are different for boarders in your home than tenants.  A phone call to a competent local attorney specializing in landlord tenant issues may be wise.  There is also much information available in apartment industry magazines, typically published by apartment associations.  Many have regular columns written by attorneys.

Unless the lawyer is paid upfront she won't find anyone to take her case. Those are all terrible arguments. I think the fact it was all verbal in this case is actually in your favor as is the fact she stayed so long. She can pound sand.

Also, don't be a bum. Pay your taxes. Write off what you can, but give Caesar what is Caesar's.

The real question is 'does anyone have experience reporting someone to the IRS?' I'd bet not. Do you know their SSN? EIN? DoB? That's all in Section A. And how do you think they'd answer "... describe the facts of the alleged violation-Who/What/Where/When/How you learned about and obtained the information in this report."

It would be interesting to see what an accountant like @Steven Hamilton II   thinks. This is (I think) the appropriate form to file: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3949a.pdf  if you KNOW with some certainty that someone is indeed cheating...

As for the suit.... and the basis is...   ?  Money owed? Small claims?  I'm trying to figure out the venue and a basis for a suit. Sorry, I can't see it.

Sounds like an upset lover to me ....................  Just a thought 

Actually if you did not report the income and the IRS determines you owe them, you will be subject to tax and penalties. Even more interesting is the IRS can and has paid out reward to information informants.

If you were subletting part of your apartment you definitely may have some tax consequences as you can only deduct your cost of repairs and that percentage of YOUR lease payment.