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What if the Tenant moves out after the case and the damages exceed the security deposit?

The usual procedure in eviction cases is that when the Landlord obtains a money judgment or possession of the property, the Tenant must leave within ten days. When the Tenant later leaves the property, the Landlord often learns of the extensive damages that the Tenant has caused to the property. This damage has not been included in the original judgment because the Landlord was not able to inspect the premises before the court date, or because the damages was caused after the court date. Normally, the Landlord could offset the security deposit for the damages, but often the entire security deposit is already used up by the Tenant’s unpaid rent. When this situation occurs, the Landlord will have to file a second case against the Tenant for breach of contract.

Naturally, a Landlord will not be pleased about the prospect of filing a second case against the Tenant – a second case involves a second set of filing fees, attorneys fees, and the Tenant can often not be found to be served since the Landlord just evicted them. Also, the Landlord must assess whether a second case is even worth filing if the likelihood of recovery is slim even on the first case. For all of these reasons, a Landlord should not waive a reasonable security deposit when the lease is first signed, and the Landlord must act quickly to evict a defaulting Tenant.

 


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