How to take a tenant to small claims court if they have skipped rent

Written by chris anzalone
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How to take a tenant to small claims court if they have skipped rent
You can take your tenant to Small Claims Court if they do not pay you your rent. (apartment for rent image by dead_account from

If you manage a house, apartment or other home in which a tenant skips rent, you have specific rights allowing you to collect the money owed using the proper legal channels. In most instances, a tenant will owe you less than £3,250, which makes you eligible to file a claim using your local Magistrate Court, or Small Claims Court. This allows you to resolve the issue more quickly and easily than you could costlier civil matters.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Call your tenant and inform him of the late rent. Before you begin legal procedures, you must try to personally remind him of his responsibilities under the terms of the lease.

  2. 2

    Write a formal letter to your tenant informing her of the exact amount owed and your intent to take legal action. Inform her that she must immediately pay the full amount owed, and if applicable, inform her of the eviction process. Sign and date your letter. You cannot take a tenant to small claims court until you have formally demanded the unpaid rent.

  3. 3

    Copy your letter and save it. You will need it when you file your claim. Submit the original copy to your tenant.

  4. 4

    Visit your local Magistrate Court, which usually is near or inside your county courthouse. You must use the court in the county where the dispute has occurred. Wait three days after submitting your letter to the tenant and fill out a claim form for submission to the clerk. The form must include your full name, the name of the tenant, the location of the home in question, the exact amount owed and your specific reason for suing. Also, submit to the clerk a copy of your letter demanding unpaid rent.

  5. 5

    Appear in court if summoned. After you file your claim, an officer will appear at your tenant's residence and present him with a formal subpoena. If he still refuses to pay the rent, you will likely need to testify. If a judge determines that the tenant violated your lease agreement, you will be rewarded the damages.

Tips and warnings

  • Check the specific laws in your state before filing. Some states vary slightly in the amount of time you must wait before filing your claim.

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