I posted a few weeks ago about our first eviction. Today was court day. Somewhat of a surprise, the tenant showed up. The JP was very nice, he explained everything that was going on to both of us. She tried to claim she was moving because of repairs not being done and she had text messages that she showed where I told her I'd get to it when I could. But I had the whole text message list where she said she was moving out before notifying me of the said repairs.
JP told her that by law she could not withhold rent. She tried the tears on the JP, but he was unimpressed with the waterworks. I showed multiple text message where I told her I was coming to do scheduled maintenance and asked if there were any other issues, and she said, no everything's fine. She also sent a text once telling how great we had treated her.
I had all my documentation, the lease, the 3 day pay or quit, and everything else I might need.
The JP ruled that she owed Septembers rent, but because she had vacated on October 2nd, he gave her a break. I asked him about her breaking the lease and he stuck with only Septembers rent. The lease was up October 31st.
She can appeal, but would have to post a $1620 bond. I got a judgement for one months rent, plus court costs, total of $936.
She was hateful as hell to us in court, but within an hour after, she texted my wife asking if she could use her deposit for the last months rent and she would pay the court costs.
I made my final itemized list of damages and she is in the red by $44 dollars on her deposit, so even if I agreed she still owes me more than the judgement.
I haven't sent that to her, I can just visualize her head exploding when she sees it.
Good for you, sounds like you had what you needed for court. Do not settle with them that the deposit will satisfy the judgement. They broke the lease and your lease should state that the SD is forfeited once lease is broken, once you start the repairs you will have to come out of pocket more to get the house ready for the next tenant. There will be things you missed during the walk through.
Offer a reduction in the judgement if they pay X amount in 15-30 days. You may or may not get anything but if you do not try you possibly will not get anything. You could also go to the court and get an asset lien against them, court clerk can give you more info.
Good job. I've found Texas JPs to be very sympathetic to FACTS and WRITTEN things. Not too sympathetic to tears or long stories. I lived in Houston for about 25 years and had between 2 and 16 rentals the entire time. I think I only ever had 3 tenants show up in JP court. BTW, I always had my security deposit be 20% higher than a month's rent so the tenant wouldn't be confused in their mind about what was what. Also, once I started requiring a minimum of a TWO YEAR lease my maintenance costs, lost rent at turnover and management headaches went way down.
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