How to pursue a tenant for damages?

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How to pursue a tenant for damages?

My tenant broke her 1 year lease almost 6 months early. I have a penalty for early termination of 2 months rent. She left the house without giving me a warning. Also, I had some patio furniture and some pieces of furniture that she stole. She is claiming that she left the patio furniture outside and the lock for that door was broken so someone stole it. Additionally, the home needs some repairs like painting and cleaning, plus she left some walls with holes. How can I collect the early termination fees, and what can I do to have her either return my stolen furniture or pay for it?

Asked on November 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A lease, as you know, is a contract between parties.  If someone breaks the lease they breach the terms of the contract.  The remedy is filing a lawsuit against them in the proper court.  Here, landlord tenant courts have jurisdiction over the subject matter.  You will need to file suit accordingly.  Now, sometimes there can be a problem with the suit and it really depends on local law and how a case is presented.  A lease is a monthly contract of sorts, with the money becoming due and owing on the same day each month.  So technically, the breach occurs when the money is not paid EACH MONTH.  That means you can not sue for a potential breach of next months rent today, even though you know that the tenant is not going to pay it.  So many times the landlord waits until the lease term has ended to sue for the entire amount.  But that does not fly in some area where a landlord has an obligation to mitigate - reduce - their damages from lost rent by attempting to repair and re-rent the apartment. I would suggest that you seek legal help here on how to proceed.  You have time to sue under your state law I am sure.  Good luck.


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