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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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: http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/pamphlets/landlord-tenant.htm


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