Expertise requested - small claims court for broken lease?

3 Replies

We had a tenant for 18 months.  She was never late and caused no problems.  Last month, she informed us she had purchased a house.  She was only 5 months into her lease.  We posted the property for rent immediately, but it did not show well while she was there and we had no applicants.  She left at the end of October.  We've repainted and done repairs.  The place looks good.  But we have no showings, much less applicants.  We've priced below market.  It's the time of the year, I'm sure.  Our properties in that neighborhood rent within 1-2 weeks in the spring.

Here's my question.  We agreed that she would be released from her lease once we had a new tenant in place.  I suspect she is going to stop paying before that happens.  Can we take her to small claims court for the unpaid rent even though she has vacated the premises?

Thanks in advance!

I think you have a strong small claim court case.

My suggestion: keep records of all the work you have done on the property, retain pictures for proof and  have evidence that you are advertising/showing the property with attempts of finding a tenant.

Once the property is rented, collect on the amount of funds you are out on past rent + re-renting costs.

It's a slam dunk situation assuming you can show she broke the lease and she in fact can afford to pay.

To your success!

@Jennifer Streamer   Agreed, sounds like you have a strong case.  Certainly check with your landlord-tenant laws of your state, but in VT where I operate, you have a duty to attempt to re-rent the place as soon as possible and then the tenant would be liable for any shortfall.  

As David mentioned, keep good records of everything.  I've done a few small claims court cases and never lost.  

Good luck!

- Tom

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