How best to proceed against former tenants formajor damages to our property?

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How best to proceed against former tenants formajor damages to our property?

We as a seller had a contract for deed for a period of 1 year. After that year the buyers were supposed to get other financing. Within that year over half their payments were late, and some completely skipped (with late fees etc. they owe us close to $1,000). The total contract was for $25,000. We gave the buyers 30 days to pay or vacate the premises which they have done. Now that we are able to get back into the property, we found out that they have destroyed several things. Among other things: 3 doors were destroyed; they let a dog in and left poop and pee everywhere (we will have to change the carpet and padding); they had the water shut off and still yet were using the toilet and throwing the toilet paper on the floor (now the toilet is broken); there were roaches inside the refrigerator (both dead and alive); there were mouse droppings everywhere (including the countertops); they broke the stove; punched a hole in the wall;,and left a bunch of trash. I have pictures of both before they moved in and now after they moved out. I am trying to find out if I have any grounds for a small claim for damages and payments not made, or for that matter for the full $25,000 in civil court?

Asked on July 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation here.  What a nightmare but thankfully it is over.  The contract was obviously breached and there are actual damages - besides the monetary damages under the contract - owed to you.  The tenant's will be entitled to a set off of the rent paid under the lease which is deducted from the $25,000.  The physical damages would be on top of the rent owed.  So you have to see how much in total all the damages are and decide which court that you wish to sue in here.  You also may have a security deposit calculation in there as well.  Small claims court has a cap of a certain amount but it is definitely easier to sue there.  You may want to seek legal consultation on a flat rate fee just to make sure that you have all bases covered.  Good luck to you.


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