I once read a real estate book that said, “If you’re a real estate investor, it’s not a matter if you’re going to be sued, it’s when you’re going to be sued.” Well, I’ve been in the business about 10 years and I’ve dealt with dozens upon dozens of tenants and sellers and I am now being sued for the first time ever.
Here’s why: A few months ago I had a tenant who signed a lease on one of my rental properties. The day the tenant was supposed to move into the property she said the property was uninhabitable and she refused to move in. She wanted her security deposit back, and obviously I did not give it back to her because she was breaching the contract which she had signed.
Now she is suing me for the security deposit along with other “damages” from not being able to move in. After I found out about this I called the woman to try and be reasonable and figure out what’s going on because the last thing I wanted to do was end up in court.
I asked this woman why in the world she would walk through a house and sign a lease on a house which she now deems uninhabitable. Of course, as soon as I asked her this question she quickly changed the subject and could not answer the question.
All she kept saying was that it was uninhabitable.
In case you’re wondering, the property is in fine condition. She took pictures of the property and her definition of uninhabitable means like a speck of dirt on the carpet and walls that have a scuff on them.
I tried to calmly talk to this woman and explain to her that when you sign a lease you are expected to honor it and that obviously she wouldn’t have signed the lease in the first place if the house was so horrible it couldn’t be lived in.
However, it was pointless trying to talk to her and she hung up on me.
Now, I have a court date several weeks away where I have to go show a judge the lease the woman signed after she had done a walk through in the property. By the way, to make this even better, on my lease I have a part where it says “please note any problems or anything you would like fixed” and she left that part blank.
What I believe happened is that the woman decided she no longer wanted to live in the area (since her mailing address is now out of state) and she realized the only way to get out of the lease was to be dishonest and make something up.
It’s a shame that there are such dishonest people in the world, but the majority of folks are good people, and as I mentioned earlier, in 10 years of business this is the first time I’ve ever been sued.
The pain in the butt thing is, I have to waste my time and the courts time driving all the way to the courthouse because of this woman, but that’s the way our legal system works where anyone can sue you for anything.
Also, if you’re worried about getting sued you shouldn’t be. If you always treat people honest and fairly then you should never, ever be worried about having to stand before a judge explaining why something happened. Yes, you may get sued in life, but if you’ve done the right thing you should hopefully be fine.
As for me, I’ll let you know in several weeks what happens after my day in court.