What happens if a tenant refuses to pay rent in the last month of their tenancy?

UPDATED: Jul 29, 2011

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What happens if a tenant refuses to pay rent in the last month of their tenancy?

My tenant refused to pay rent in the last month of his tenancy. The lease says that using the deposit as last month’s rent comes with a penalty of 2x the deposit. Is him not paying rent effectively him using the deposit as last months rent? I need to pay the mortgages. Can I take him to court?

Asked on July 29, 2011 Minnesota


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Usually the language of a written lease sets forth the terms and obligations between the landlord and the tenant. However, there are exceptions. Such exceptions are those prohibited by state law. The penalty of twice the deposit for using the deposit as the last month's rent may violate statue law as being an unreasonable penalty in violation of public policy.

You should contact a rael estate attorney where you live to review this provision with respect to state law in that you do not want to run afoul of it as the landlord.

I would serve your tenant with a written notice to pay or quit if you want him or her to continue with the lease if the rent has not been timely paid, or a notice of eviction if rent has not been paid and you want him or her out to safeguard your interests.

I caution against using the twice deposit penalty in your claims against the tenant.

Good luck.


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