If negotiations and mediation to resolve disputes with your tenant are unsuccessful, consider taking your tenant to small claims court.
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Consult local rental housing authorities to determine your local and state rights as a landlord to take your tenant to court.
Call the clerk of the court for your county to find out the procedures and maximum amounts for filing suit against your tenant in small claims court.
Go to the court clerk's office to file your claim and pay the filing fee (usually about $25).
Accumulate evidence and documentation to support your claim, such as receipts for repairs, photos of property damage and copies of correspondence.
Be prepared to tell your side of the story in court and determine the amount of damages you are seeking from your tenant.
Attend the scheduled hearing, explain the circumstances of the lawsuit and listen to your tenant's side of the story.
Represent yourself in small claims court if you want to avoid the expense of hiring an attorney.
Tips and warnings
- In some states, landlords must file lawsuits against their tenants in landlord-tenant courts, rather than small claims courts.
- Most small claims courts allow only monetary rewards; for other disputes, such as noise grievances, landlords may have to file suit against their tenants in regular court.