Can I sue a former tenant who recently moved out of state for property damage?

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2011

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Can I sue a former tenant who recently moved out of state for property damage?

The tenant broke their lease, and caused severe damage to the property. They hired an attorney once they were in CA for their security deposit for $1850. The attorney is in WA and demanded that I refund their security deposit, which I did. It has cost me over $4000 to get the property damage fixed. I have filed a small claims here in WA, and had them served via registered mail which they accepted. Is my small claims lawsuit valid?

Asked on August 25, 2011 Washington


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You are legally entitled to sue your former tenant who recently moved out of the state of Washington (where your rental is) to the state of California for breaking their lease with you and for property damage.

Venue (location of the lawsuit) is proper in the state of Washington against your former tenant because the lease if your property was entered in the state of Washington, the property rented is in the state of Washington, and the damages occurred in the state of Washington.

The former tenant accepted service of the summons and complaint via certified mail. He or she will be forced to travel to your state to defend the action or a default will be taken. Most likely a default will be taken and you will have to try and execute upon the expected judgment you will receive.

If you paid the $1,850 to your former tenant directly, look at the back of the check when it is returned from your bank. It will show where the former tenant deposited it which is most likely his or her bank. This information will help you for possible execution purposes on the likely judgment you will obtain in your small claims action.

Good luck.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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