What to do if we leased a house for 2 years then moved to another state but now the landlord wants claim alleged damages in excess of $5000?

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What to do if we leased a house for 2 years then moved to another state but now the landlord wants claim alleged damages in excess of $5000?

The damages is completely unreasonable and unrelated to our stay in the house.We have been absolutely diligent in payments and behavior; we even have a letter of recommendation from the landlord certifying this. Yet, despite that we received this communication from the landlord accusing us of damages we are not responsible for. We’d like to get help and advice on how to proceed.

Asked on June 17, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Legally, if you did cause the damage, then the landlord may seek the cost of repair from you; and he is still within the statute of limitations (time period to sue), if he wanted to bring a legal action.

2) Practically, to recover any money from you, he would have to prove that you did the damage--and not, for example, that it was caused subsequently (such as by a later renter). It may be very difficult for him to do this: not only do you have a letter of recommendation, but if he returned most or all your security deposit to you, that would be evidence there was little damage.

It is also more difficult and costly for him to sue across state lines, which is annother impediment to him. You don't need to do anything until and unless you are sued--you don't even need to send him  a written response if you don't want to (and if you do send him anything in writing, bear in mind that if *anything* in it is negative or bad for you in any way, it could be used against you). If he does sue, you can defend on the factual basis: deny you did any damage and force him to prove it, which may be very difficult.


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