As a landlord, can I sue my tenant for my labor as well as cost of materials to repair damages to the premises?

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As a landlord, can I sue my tenant for my labor as well as cost of materials to repair damages to the premises?

Tenant left owing $850 in back rent and caused substantial damage to house while living there.It cost me about $5000 in materials and about 7 weeks to get the house somewhat back to the condition it was in before they moved in. Can I sue for my time spent fixing the house as well as material costs?The security falls far short of covering my costs?

Asked on August 3, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you cannot sue for YOUR own time. That may not be fair--personally, I don't think it is--but the law does not allow people to recover for their effort, time, and sweat. For example, some statutes allow the winning party to recover attorney's fees--but not if a lawyer was the one who sued and won and represented himself.

If you had hired someone to do the work, you could sue for that contractor's fees or costs. As it is, you can sue for the materials cost (be sure to keep your receipts to document it). You can also sue for the back rent. You would offset the security deposit vs. the total of materials and back rent and lock to recover the balance. Good luck.


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