Can a landlord sue a tenant for damagesyear after the tenant has vacated the property?

UPDATED: Feb 24, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Feb 24, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can a landlord sue a tenant for damagesyear after the tenant has vacated the property?

I am suing my previous landlord in small claims for misuse of my security deposit and now she is counter suing me for damages apparently not collected. I was refunded part of my last month’s rent deposit and more that my security deposit was withheld by the landlord. In addition, she has not indicated what the actual damages were.

Asked on February 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, a landlord may sue a former tenant for damages--such as for unpaid rent and/or for damage to the premises--a year after the tenant has vacated. The statute of limitations on the suit will not have run out yet.

2) At some point, the landlord will have to indicate--and prove--what the damages are; she cannot possibly win a case without evidence.

3) However, if the landlord did not either return the full deposit within 14 days of you vacating the premises, or alternately, if some were being withheld, provide a written explanation of what was being withheld, why, it appears you should have gotten the entire deposit back. Here is a link to an article you may find helpful:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption