What is the minimum amount that a landlord can take us to small claims court for?

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2011

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What is the minimum amount that a landlord can take us to small claims court for?

We received an invoice from our landlord for $1,260 for moving out without giving him a full 30-days notice. I paid the invoice today in full, a day before he requested, only to find out that he emailed us a revised invoice that was $359 higher because he has added on water and electric bills for the period that the house was vacant. Can he take us to small claims court for this amount?

Asked on August 30, 2011 Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Small claims court has a maximum, not a minimum; in theory, someone could sue for $1.00 in small claims court, though no one ever does, since the filing fee alone would greatly acceed it. On the other hand, since filing fees are usually around $30 - $50, it could be worth it to the landlord to pursue $359 in small claims court. Therefore, if it appears that you do in fact owe this money--for example, it's a legitimate bill  for utilities you would pay during the time the house was vacant and you had provided inadequate notice--you may wish to either pay it or try to settle it for some lesser amount, since  if you should go to court, the landlord would probably win. Since there are some costs to going to small claims court--filing fees and time--the landlord may be wililng to settle for less than the full amount.

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