What to do about back rent owed?

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What to do about back rent owed?

My brother-in-law allowed me to rent a room with he and his wife. I paid them for the year and then they moved out of the home and made me move out too, without notice. I have yet to receive my back rent/security deposit. This was now 5 months ago and I have made several attempts to collect the money but to no avail.  Since he wants to play the role of a landlord by renting a room, can I take him to small claims and get double my owed rent? unfortunately, we had no contract but I have several e-mails/texts in which he promises to pay the back rent.

Asked on January 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if you pre-paid for tenancy or occupancy which you never received, you can sue to recover the unused portion or amount of the rent. You can also recover your security deposit, and if your state--like most--allows double damages for security deposit violations by a landlord, you can look to recover the additional damages, too. Suing in small claims court would be a good option for total potential liabilty under $2,000; if the total owed exceeds that, you should retain an attorney. Good luck.


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