SshouldI file in small claims for unpaid rent and late fees or simply evict?

My tenant has paid rent late every month and not paid her late fees. She has not paid lat month in full and nothing for this month. Should Ifile in small claims first or start the eviction process?

Asked on September 22, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Typically, you would evict first--regain possession of your property--then subsequently file a suit in small claims for any unpaid rent, damages not covered by the security deposit, etc. Bear in mind that if the tenant has financial difficulties--which is common in late and nonpayment of rent cases--then suing her might be an exercise in frustration. You could end up with a judgment in your favor but no means to collect, since she has no money to pay the judgment. In that case, even though you won, you actually lost, since you spent your time and at least some money (filing fees; parking at court; any copies you make; etc.) in order to not recover anything.

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