Being Sued by ex-tenant
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Being Sued by ex-tenant (by alicewonder [TX]) Nov 6, 2013 3:42 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Frank [NJ]) Nov 6, 2013 4:13 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by JR [ME]) Nov 6, 2013 4:20 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by BillS [CO]) Nov 6, 2013 4:23 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Martin [CO]) Nov 6, 2013 4:24 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Mike45 [NV]) Nov 6, 2013 4:28 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Robert J [CA]) Nov 6, 2013 5:11 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Pattyk [MO]) Nov 6, 2013 5:12 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by V [OH]) Nov 6, 2013 7:34 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gail K [GA]) Nov 7, 2013 5:02 AM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by John... [MI]) Nov 7, 2013 6:48 AM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gruvin [TX]) Nov 7, 2013 7:35 AM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gruvin [TX]) Nov 7, 2013 7:37 AM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by John... [MI]) Nov 7, 2013 10:47 AM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Chris [CA]) Nov 8, 2013 3:18 PM
       Being Sued by ex-tenant (by dino [CA]) Nov 10, 2013 9:48 PM

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by alicewonder [TX]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 3:42 PM

Hi Everyone,

Here is the hot topic and would like everyone's input....

I was served the paper today by the ex-tenant. When they decided to move, they had already sent me tons emails, letters to demand the full refund of the security deposit.

In the lease, it is in 30 days with deductibles... I mailed it in 30 days, but they did not like it.

I deducted only two late fee charges (out of 24 months), their rent payments were always late, they used all their grace period each month, they claimed the postmark were within the grace period, although I did not get it, in 5 days, 10 days, three weeks late. I told them the rent is not pay until it received. (according to this Forum.)

I spent total 8 hours to remove all the smears, marks, stains on the walls, tiles, everywhere in the house, I charged $35 hours...

Of course, there were so many items that I did not charged.

Now, they threat hen and sued me for the full refund, and three times attorney fee.

Did any of you have experiences to deal with this kind lawsuits? I just ponder why those people can lie so much and think they are above the law?

I have all the evidences, the pictures.... how do I answer the court papers to justice court in 14 days? who can I ask for help?

Well, there is always the first time for everything.


1a --162.89.x.xx

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Frank [NJ]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 4:13 PM

the answers to your question are very state specific.

Your best source of answers, a response and subsequent actions are from the attorney...the one you have not consulted yet.

Do it tomorrow.....QUICK!

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by JR [ME]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 4:20 PM

I agree, very state specific. You should have collected the late fees at the time they were generated, not years later, it weakens your case considerably. "Round here, I would never charge for my time, but I would charge for my handyman's time and enclose his invoice for repairs and cleaning. Again, makes it dicey for you. As you are actually being sued, time to call your lawyer.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by BillS [CO]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 4:23 PM

Ask an attorney who specializes in Landlord representation in your area.

If you want to go DYI, then go to court and learn the process by observing. Prepare with all the backup you have and do battle.

Search the site regarding how to prepare for court but know that it is very state/city/judge specific.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Martin [CO]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 4:24 PM

One thing to look at is the Texas law on charging for your own labor. You may not be able to, which means that you would not be able to charge for the 8 hours of labor to clean. On the other hand, if you had hired someone to clean it, you could show the receipt, and charge for your actual costs.

As Frank said, get with an attorney to find out what the law is, and what you can charge for and what you cannot.

It is mostly likely too late to charge the late fees at this point, but if you have them documented, you can try.

Otherwise, what actual, out of pocket expenses do you have?

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Mike45 [NV]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 4:28 PM

What court are you being sued in? Justice Court (the new name for Small Claims Court in Texas)?

In what county?

I do not know if the time to answer has changed under the Small Claims-Justice Court transition or not. You really need a Texas attorney to help you.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Robert J [CA]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 5:11 PM

Landlords time is worthless in the eyes of the law. You can't charge your tenant for your time, only monies you paid others to do the job for you! Unless you are licensed professional, own a company and bill yourself for the work.

Here in California we have a "Pre-Moveout Inspection". Two weeks before a tenant moves out we review the property, make a list of repairs and what we are going to charge the tenant for the repairs. This gives the tenant an opportunity to clean themselves, heir their own contractor or handyman. Example: I'll charge $150 to shampoo the carpet. The tenant can rent a machine and do it themself for under $30.

Unless you wrote a letter each month when the rent was late and informed the tenant you are deducting from their deposit a late fee for a specific month, you can't decide to deduct later. Also you must have the envelope with the post mark cancellation showing it was received late!

Also any repairs costing over $100, you must have the receipt, cancelled checks of payment and proof. All of this and the above you need to take to court to prove you case.. Just because you say something is true, judges don't like to believe rich landlords....over poor tenants.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Pattyk [MO]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 5:12 PM

well this is not good news. Sorry you were served papers, it does appear it's time to get an attorney who perhaps can negotiate a settlement before going to court. Where I live I can not charge for my labor, so my sister bills me and I bill her when I work on her properties. I would charge for housekeeping - ie. removing marks from the walls. I don't know about TExas and the late fees, that may be ok or not ok ? I don't know. Hopefully someone from Texas will come along with some better understanding of TX law. For now I would not loose any sleep, rest that you have the pictures and that you are going to speak tomorrow to an Attorney. Just about any of them should work.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by V [OH]) Posted on: Nov 6, 2013 7:34 PM

I too will mention not only do you need to understand your court system enforcing or being soft on certain laws that are local - I strongly advise anyone to visit court before drafting a lease that the court will laugh at. Allowing late rent repeating several times is setting the standard that your business practices apparently reward bad behavior, when rent is late the late fee must be added into the next rent cycle or this will be ignored, then comes the move-in/move-out pictures, keep this short and to the point - found bathtub surround cracked at moveout - undetected until merrymaids cleaned the stains and scum - 125bux cleaning bill enclosed, estimate to repair enclosed with photos.

You asked how to get help, this help is in preparation before tenant moves into your unit, in this business the exit plan is the most important plan.

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gail K [GA]) Posted on: Nov 7, 2013 5:02 AM


Take a deep breath and relax...

As others have suggested, attend a court hearing prior to providing your response. This will help you gather your thoughts on where you wish to go.

It's not unusual to countersue with additional damages that you did not mention initially. After all, you're being sued; you have nothing to lose doing this.


Being Sued by ex-tenant (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Nov 7, 2013 6:48 AM

You talk about what you deducted from the S/D. Did you actually provide that per-item accounting to them? Or did you just send back whatever was left and say that the rest was kept for damages? I'm looking to see if you provided a detailed accounting with the return of the remaining S/D.

Also, you should probably STOP having a "grace period" at all. From my quick research, grace periods are not required in Texas.

Also, from what I can find, it looks like Texas DOES consider the POSTMARK date to be considered the rent paid date (as well as the S/D returned date, so they go both ways there, at least). Therefore, you going with "late if not RECEIVED by a certain date" "according to this Forum" might get you into some trouble too.

You can't just take what gets said in this forum as fact. Many things -- especially things like this -- are VERY state-specific. Heck, I already see completely incorrect information in a post above here that is clearly state-specific and NOT for Texas.

- John...

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gruvin [TX]) Posted on: Nov 7, 2013 7:35 AM

Unless you are using the Texas Apartment Association and Texas Association of Realtors leases, which clearly state that postmark is not effective delivery...

Under Texas Landlord Tenant Law, the date of the postmark is presumed to be the effective date of delivery.

Just a note...the date on the check is irrelevant, as is when it was dropped off at the post office, it is the actual postmark on the envelope that is the determining factor. With that in mind, the tenant would need a delivery confirmation so they have that proof of delivery. It may be a little difficult to prove the envelope was postmarked on the 3rd if the tenant doesn't have the envelope, you don't have it, and they didn't get a delivery receipt.

Texas rental grace period is 1 day so if rent is due on the first, they can also present payment on the second - late on the third.

If the landlord has made any deductions from the tenantís security deposit, the landlord must send the tenant the balance of their security deposit along with a written itemized list of any damages and the approximate cost of repair. The landlord is not required to include this list if the tenant owes the landlord rent at lease termination and there is no discrepancy regarding the amount of rent owed.

If a landlord attempts to wrongfully withhold a tenantís security deposit, the landlord may be responsible for three times the amount of deposit withheld plus attorney fees. If the landlord does not provide written notice of any damages for the portion of security withheld, the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any of the security deposit and may have to pay any attorney fees the tenant incurred trying to recover their deposit.

I find that the law is silent on if you can charge for your time, I never do - I farm it out to a responsibly trained person for the task. Billing for your own time is up to the judges discretion.

Time to talk to an attorney, good luck! --99.126.xx.xx

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Gruvin [TX]) Posted on: Nov 7, 2013 7:37 AM

on the grace period, if you have something else in your lease then you have to follow that instead, the minimum is what I posted previously. --99.126.xx.xx

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by John... [MI]) Posted on: Nov 7, 2013 10:47 AM

For those following, she appears to have created a new thread with her reply instead of following up here:

- John...

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by Chris [CA]) Posted on: Nov 8, 2013 3:18 PM

As someone who comes here to ask legal questions, I wonder if they can do this: sue not for the amount you deducted, but for the FULL SD?!?

How much was the SD? How much had been deducted?

Can you PROVE the sorry state they left the apartment in?

Was this just some demand note, or an actual lawsuit?

Being Sued by ex-tenant (by dino [CA]) Posted on: Nov 10, 2013 9:48 PM

I would typically notify the tenant in writing at the time the late fees were incurred, such a letter would state that the late fee had been deducted from their deposit. You should have recorded in your file when you took such actions. This is the type of information, the copy of such a letter along with your notations of how and when you mailed it and posted it on the tenant's door, that should be used to document your case in court. You then show how your notification was consistent with your indisputable bank deposit records and your rent receipt records.

It is true that the postmark is usually not the important date, you need to receive the rent.

I would not settle such a case. Just be sure you have your records to document your actions when you consult with your attorney.

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