How to Take a Tenant to Small Claims Court

Written by ehow personal finance editor
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If negotiations and mediation to resolve disputes with your tenant are unsuccessful, consider taking your tenant to small claims court.

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  1. 1

    Consult local rental housing authorities to determine your local and state rights as a landlord to take your tenant to court.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    Go to the court clerk's office to file your claim and pay the filing fee (usually about $25).

  4. 4

    Accumulate evidence and documentation to support your claim, such as receipts for repairs, photos of property damage and copies of correspondence.

  5. 5

    Be prepared to tell your side of the story in court and determine the amount of damages you are seeking from your tenant.

  6. 6

    Attend the scheduled hearing, explain the circumstances of the lawsuit and listen to your tenant's side of the story.

  7. 7

    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.

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