Can you sue a family member for back rent, damagaesand stolen personal property?

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Can you sue a family member for back rent, damagaesand stolen personal property?

My husband’s sister lived in my husband’s house for about 3 years. There was an agreement of rent to own with all renovation her responsibility. We had items stored at the house, collectibles totaling $5000, pool table around $800, numerous miscellaneous personal property unknown amount, etc., that the sister stole/sold/gave away, we talked to witnesses/neighbors about missing items. Back rent owed total $3,150. The house now needs to be torn down due to damages incurred by the sister. House amount $15,000. Can anything be done without spending a fortune in legal fees?

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) You can sue anyone--including family--for back rent as long as there had been an agreement that she pay rent, which you indicate was the case.

2) You can also sue anyone for damages they did, either intentionally or negligently, to your property; and for any of your property which they either intentionally or negligently lost, gave away, stole, etc. Therefore, you may have a cause of action for damage to the house and the loss of your property, too.

3) You could represent yourself in court--i.e. act as your own lawyer on the lawsuit--though is NOT recommened. You describe being owed $3,150 in rent; over $6,000 in personal property, and around $15,000 in house damage, totalling $24,500+. For that amount of money, you should let a lawyer help you--it will increase your odds of winning greatly.


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