What to do it tenants trashed the rental premises?

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What to do it tenants trashed the rental premises?

We rented our house to friends this past year. We did not have them sign a lease only a verbal agreement. We trusted them to maintain the house and take care of the yard. Well they just moved out and the place is trashed. So I tried to talk to them to work something out. They didn’t own up to any of the damages made – carpet soaked in cat and dog pee, walls, tiles need to be replaced, etc. They had no disregard for our personal prop. Can we do anything about it?

Asked on January 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can sue them. Whether or not there was a written lease, tenants are liable for damage they do to a rental premises. They are not liable for ordinary wear and tear, but they would be liable for anything beyond that. For a few hundred dollars of damage, you would probably act as your own lawyer, possibly suing them in small claims court; for a few thousand, hire an attorney to sue them on your behalf. You'll  need to be able to show, whether by testimony, photos, or other evidence (or best, by all three) that it is more likely than not that they caused the damage and the extent of the damage; you can look to recover the repair or replacement costs.  Good luck.


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