Can I sue property management company for vacancy?

9 Replies

Hi BP community,

I am considering filing a lawsuit against a previous property management company.  So several months ago, I paid little over 2k for rent ready work - paint touchups, some maintenance work when the tenant moved out. I found out much later that they either did not do the work or did a very bad job. I have pictures of unpainted areas and missed maintenance work. The place stayed vacant for almost half a year (about 8k of lost rent). They were very brief whenever I asked questions during this time assuring me that it would get rented out soon. It wasn't until 5 months later that they then suggested redoing the scratched up floors, something that they should have suggested in the beginning of the vacancy.

I fired them and hired a new management company who finally did rent ready work and the place was rented out within a month. 

It has been a very financially tough event for me. Has anyone had success dealing with a situation like this? A lawyer suggested I write a demand letter for the full amount lost - rent ready work and months of rent damages. Would this be better as a small claims court without a lawyer or should I hire one? Thanks.

Angie L. You can certainly try but collecting will likely be difficult. You could probably sue for the repairs that weren’t done but Idk about lost rent.

Whys you wait 6 months ?

I tried to contact them once a month they always had a reason why it was still vacant- slow season, tax season... I also have a full time job, live across the country, and flights were pricey for a while. I went there after about 5 months.

Write a letter to the property manager explaining how much you lost. Offer to settle for a smaller amount, maybe 50%, but be sure to set a deadline of no more than 30 days. If they go for it, great. If not, follow through with a Small Claims suit.

Keep in mind it can be tough to prove they were negligent. They can argue your current PM managed to find a rental because the market had shifted or it was a better time of year.

The initial demand letter is free so give that a shot and then consider whether you want to move forward.

Thanks for the suggestions! The current pm also suggested to lower the rent a little, something the previous pm suggested at the very end. Not sure how much that matters as they could have suggested it earlier.

Nathan, thanks for your suggestions! 

Another part of this that makes it more complicated is that these managers filed civil suits on debt from previous tenants. They control the communication with attorneys and there is quite a lot the tenants owe. 

Would a demand letter and possibly a small claims for a settlement suit jeopardize the suits they are still in charge of? Is there a way to make sure they are honest with what happens the civil suits?

You can try to sue them for not fulfilling their fiduciary duties to you, but unless they stole from you I would just move on. Lawsuits are expensive, and usually they're expensive for both sides.