If I rented an apartment in one state but now live in another, where can my former landlord bring suit against me?

UPDATED: Aug 20, 2012

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If I rented an apartment in one state but now live in another, where can my former landlord bring suit against me?

My old landlord is taking me to small claims court. However, since the landlord/tenant laws are different from state to state, how can a my state’s small claims judge rule on this case when the apartment was located in another state? She is suing me for $3,000 for: having a pet which she found out I had a did nothing about, for not painting the walls, for not patching picture hanger holes and for not paying last month’s rent. I just told her to use my security deposit towards it.

Asked on August 20, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lawsuit can be filed in the state where the plaintiff (landlord) lives or in the state where the defendant lives (you are the defendant) or in the state where the claim arose.

If the lawsuit was filed in your state, it was probably due to limitations on the jurisdiction of Small Claims Court in the landlord's state regarding filing a lawsuit against someone in another state.

There are fundamental principles of landlord/tenant law that are applicable and which a judge in any state will apply.  For example, the security deposit is not applicable as a payment of your last month's rent.  The security deposit is for cleaning and repairs.  The lease is a contract between landlord and tenant.  If you violated a provision of the lease by having a pet, that is another issue for the court to decide.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

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