RENT Magazine Q1 '23


Even the most cautious landlord can end up with a tenant who does not pay their rent and does damage to the rental property that exceeds the security deposit. When renting your investment property, you should always plan ahead so that you are prepared for the eventuality that you need to sue a tenant for damages. To help you win your case against an errant tenant, you should be careful to avoid the following five common mistakes many landlords make when they take a renter to small claims court.

Mistake #1.

Failure to have a move-in checklist at final inspection with the new tenant.

The landlord and tenant should walk through each room to evaluate the home’s condition. They both must sign the move-in checklist and the new tenant receives a copy. When the landlord sues for damages above the security deposit, the judge will want to know the condition of the rental. Presenting the signed checklist gives the judge a more detailed review.

Mistake #2.

Filing the small claims case without sending a Demand Notice prior.

Before the landlord files the Small Claims Complaint and Summons, a Demand Notice needs to be sent to the tenant by certified mail. The Demand Notice will state the amount of money owed and gives the tenant 30 days to respond. If the former tenant fails to pay, a Small Claims case will be filed. The Demand Notice should be sent to the last known address on record.


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