What to do ifour tenant refuses to pay the last months rent, had the utilities shut off, and is threatening to sue us for breach of contract?

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What to do ifour tenant refuses to pay the last months rent, had the utilities shut off, and is threatening to sue us for breach of contract?

We rented our home through a management company (now fired) with a 1year lease. Several months into the lease, we decided to place our home on the market. The tenant was not happy about that, and asked to be let out of the lease. We agreed, and sent them a new month-to-month lease which they signed. Itbegan on the first of this month. They gave written notice to be out by the 30th. However, they didn’t pay the month because they said that we “breached” the contract. They had the utilities shut off on the 5th. Contract specifies utilities maintained, late fees, etc. How do we collect? Collection agency or court?

Asked on April 26, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Alabama

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I would say Court, not collection agency just yet.  You need to get a judgement first.  So what is the basis of their claim that you breached the lease (which is the "contract")?  Your position is really that they requested a modification and you consented.  That the prior lease was deemed null and void and a new lease with a new term (month to month) was issued at their request. You did not have to do that.  You would have sold the property "subject to"  the original lease agreement.  So you start an action for the rent.  As for the notice, did they give you notice, they have to give you one months notice to vacate but that does not release them of the obligation for the rent.  You can not expect them to maintain the utilities for the time after they vacate and I am not sure how that can be quantified here.  Late fees can be valid and chargeable.  Good luck.


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