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  1. #1
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    Sue Tenant for Damages

    I own a home in California and rent out a bedroom to help with the mortgage. Here is my scenario...

    I rented a room 3 months ago to this fellow. After he moved in he asked if he could get a small dog. I told him it would be fine if he paid a $300 pet deposit. The next day I come home from work and there is a dog at the house. I asked him about the pet deposit he was supposed to pay and he replied that he would pay it 'soon'. I come to find out the dog is not house trained and that the tenant has no real desire to attempt to train it to go outside. Needless to say I was not happy about this... my options as I saw them were...

    1) Force him to get rid of the dog (as he had not payed the pet deposit). He bought the dog on Craigslist so it wasn't returnable and with the ASPCA already overflowing with animals I could bring myself to force him to drop it off there... I have a soft spot for pets... in hindsight I should have gone with this option anyhow...

    2) Wait for him to pay the pet deposit (knowing since the dog is not house trained I would be assured to keep the deposit). I chose this route...

    Fast forward a could of months... Dog is still not house trained and no pet deposit. Further the bedroom he was renting has been completely destroyed by his uncleanliness and dog poop. At this point I decide to kick him out...

    Can I sue him for damages to the room?

    Some other facts...

    1) I do not use rental agreements (I know this was dumb but I have some very good reasons for not using them... wont get into that). So basically I have a verbal contract. He paid by check so I do have a record of the deposit (memo line indicates its for rent)

    2) I never collected a security deposit (just 1st & last months rent)
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post

    1) I do not use rental agreements (I know this was dumb but I have some very good reasons for not using them... wont get into that).
    Please educate us as to what your "good reasons" are.
  3. #3
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    My reasons for not using a lease are basically this...

    1) I live in the home I rent a room out of. If I make a poor decision on a tenant I need the ability to get them out ASAP. I dont want to feel like a hostage in my own home because I have a problem tenant. So in short... no agreement means I can call some 'friends' if needed to 'help' him move his stuff out.

    2) The IRS...
  4. #4
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    So in short... no agreement means I can call some 'friends' if needed to 'help' him move his stuff out.

    2) The IRS...
    So, in short, you would like assistance for your unlawful activities. Not gonna happen...
  5. #5
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    So, in short, you would like assistance for your unlawful activities. Not gonna happen...
    That would be one way to look at it I guess... as it stands my 'unlawful activities' appear to have been the right choice. Suppose I had this tenant sign a lease and not had the ability to get him out ASAP. How destroyed would my home be at this point? I probably would still be shoveling dog **** out of my home. Then I have some scumbag tenant who I cant get out and is continuing to ruin my home. CA evictions take MONTHS all the while his dog will continue to **** uncontrollably in my home. So yes it may have been unlawful but since he couldn't even pay the pet deposit I would have had little chance to get him to pay for even more damages had he continued to live there.

    As far as the IRS every American hides some small degree of income from the IRS. Personally I find it very hard to beleive you have never hid a single CENT from the IRS. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black but whatever... Enjoy your fascist point of view.
  6. #6
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    That would be one way to look at it I guess... as it stands my 'unlawful activities' appear to have been the right choice. Suppose I had this tenant sign a lease and not had the ability to get him out ASAP. How destroyed would my home be at this point? I probably would still be shoveling dog **** out of my home. Then I have some scumbag tenant who I cant get out and is continuing to ruin my home. CA evictions take MONTHS all the while his dog will continue to **** uncontrollably in my home. So yes it may have been unlawful but since he couldn't even pay the pet deposit I would have had little chance to get him to pay for even more damages had he continued to live there.

    As far as the IRS every American hides some small degree of income from the IRS. Personally I find it very hard to beleive you have never hid a single CENT from the IRS. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black but whatever... Enjoy your fascist point of view.
    Thanks to the state of California, you presently HAVE a month-to-month lease. You can't just kick your tenant out without following the proper procedures.

    I'm sorry that you don't think the law applies to you...but it does.

    ETA: Nope - don't hide a cent from the IRS.
  7. #7
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    With regards to your point about CA law making it a MONTH to MONTH lease. I am fully aware of that. Understand the type of tenant I would choose to evict in such a manner would be one I view as a danger to myself or my home. Let me ask you this... if you were to rent a room to someone and found they were doing meth or other highly illegal activities in your own home that directly puts you in danger would you pursue the appropriate legal channels knowing it could take MONTHS to resolve? And before you judge... YES I did have that happen to me, I am merely protecting my interests and see nothing wrong with that...With that said the tenant in question may have been a slob but did not warrant such an extreme method of eviction. He was given a 30 day notice in accordance with state law. I'm not here to screw people but at the same time am not trying to get screwed myself...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    ETA: Nope - don't hide a cent from the IRS.
    My comment regarding the IRS was not meant to take a shot at you personally but to point out that just about everyone cheats the IRS to some degree. In these tough economic times its hard enough to get by I literally need every cent to stay afloat. I wouldn't have even rented out a room if it wasn't a necessity to get by...
  8. #8
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    With regards to your point about CA law making it a MONTH to MONTH lease. I am fully aware of that. Understand the type of tenant I would choose to evict in such a manner would be one I view as a danger to myself or my home. Let me ask you this... if you were to rent a room to someone and found they were doing meth or other highly illegal activities in your own home that directly puts you in danger would you pursue the appropriate legal channels knowing it could take MONTHS to resolve? And before you judge... YES I did have that happen to me, I am merely protecting my interests and see nothing wrong with that...With that said the tenant in question may have been a slob but did not warrant such an extreme method of eviction. He was given a 30 day notice in accordance with state law. I'm not here to screw people but at the same time am not trying to get screwed myself...
    Illegal activities, such as you describe, have their own remedy within the LL/Tenant law. You are NOT talking about illegal activities with your current tenant. You are simply talking about a breach of contract.




    My comment regarding the IRS was not meant to take a shot at you personally but to point out that just about everyone cheats the IRS to some degree. In these tough economic times its hard enough to get by I literally need every cent to stay afloat. I wouldn't have even rented out a room if it wasn't a necessity to get by...
    What you SAID was: "As far as the IRS every American hides some small degree of income from the IRS. " Remember?
  9. #9
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    I am aware I am dealing with a breach of contract issue and not an illegal activity. You're the one who railroaded this conversation into a discussion about my 'unlawful' activities. None of which took place with this tenant (are you really going to grill me on the IRS thing?). I merely pointed out I did not have rental agreements when renting out a room and then elaborated (per your request) as to why I do not use them.
  10. #10
    Who's Liable? is offline Senior Member
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    The biggest problem here is in the fact that there is nothing in WRITING to back up your request for a deposit, AND you let it go for several months, thus showing you were complicit in allowing the dog to stay without a pet deposit.

    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    That would be one way to look at it I guess... as it stands my 'unlawful activities' appear to have been the right choice. Suppose I had this tenant sign a lease and not had the ability to get him out ASAP. How destroyed would my home be at this point? I probably would still be shoveling dog **** out of my home. Then I have some scumbag tenant who I cant get out and is continuing to ruin my home. CA evictions take MONTHS all the while his dog will continue to **** uncontrollably in my home. So yes it may have been unlawful but since he couldn't even pay the pet deposit I would have had little chance to get him to pay for even more damages had he continued to live there.
    That's the chance you take with being a LL. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Additionally, most states allow a LL to immediately evict a tenant if they have been found guilty of a crime, so your example is weak.

    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    As far as the IRS every American hides some small degree of income from the IRS. Personally I find it very hard to beleive you have never hid a single CENT from the IRS. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black but whatever... Enjoy your fascist point of view.
    No I haven't, because I know that if the IRS finds out, they will come down HARD to "teach you a lesson". Would you rather pay the few extra bucks or be on their black list?

    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    With regards to your point about CA law making it a MONTH to MONTH lease. I am fully aware of that. Understand the type of tenant I would choose to evict in such a manner would be one I view as a danger to myself or my home. Let me ask you this... if you were to rent a room to someone and found they were doing meth or other highly illegal activities in your own home that directly puts you in danger would you pursue the appropriate legal channels knowing it could take MONTHS to resolve? And before you judge... YES I did have that happen to me, I am merely protecting my interests and see nothing wrong with that...
    The answer to that is not a personal one, it is a legal one, and the answer is YES. I would be REQUIRED BY LAW to follow the appropriate channels by LEGALLY evicting said tenant. Otherwise, said tenant could turn around and sue ME for an illegal eviction and win, REGARDLESS of their own personal actions!

    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    My comment regarding the IRS was not meant to take a shot at you personally but to point out that just about everyone cheats the IRS to some degree. In these tough economic times its hard enough to get by I literally need every cent to stay afloat. I wouldn't have even rented out a room if it wasn't a necessity to get by...
    That is not the IRSs fault, nor is it your tenants fault. I would never knowingly and actively short the IRS any of their monies owed, and if you owned your own business, your attitude would change very quickly. The IRS is a beast best left undisturbed. If your tenant was completely devious, they could report to the IRS the income you are withholding from your taxes, and if the IRS pursues it, they(the tenant) would a get a percentage of the taxes owed.
  11. #11
    soonguy is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Who's Liable? View Post
    The biggest problem here is in the fact that there is nothing in WRITING to back up your request for a deposit, AND you let it go for several months, thus showing you were complicit in allowing the dog to stay without a pet deposit.

    That's the chance you take with being a LL. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Additionally, most states allow a LL to immediately evict a tenant if they have been found guilty of a crime, so your example is weak.
    That I will partially agree with. What confuses me is... regardless of the deposit that wasn't paid how does that affect his liability for property damage?

    It was my understanding the security/pet deposit is just that; a deposit against any POSSIBLE damage. Sort of a prepayment for damages (refunded if there are none). I was not under the impression that a security/pet deposit was the ONLY means to cover damages by a tenant, merely a hedge against legal action in the event the deposit did not cover all damages.

    What if he had paid a $300 deposit but the damages equaled $500? Would I have been out the other $200 because I didn't collect a large enough deposit?

    I guess what I don't understand is why the lack of collecting a deposit EXCLUDES him from liability for property damages?
  12. #12
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    The court MAY (and I write may because, while no one here can second guess how a judge might rule; however, California is a very tenant friendly state) view the fact that, while you required your tenant to provide a pet security deposit, you did absolutely nothing when he failed to produce the money for this.

    In addition, you also failed to do nothing when you realized the dog was not house trained and that your tenant had no intention of training him

    Thus, his argument in court would be that you were complicit in allowing the current living situation to continue without making a move to change anything until significant damage was done. This looks especially bad for you since you also reside in the home and would thus be more aware of the situation than if you weren't residing there.

    Does this mean you can't sue him for damages? Of course not. If you win, does your tenant have the funds to pay this judgement? Is he working so wage garnishment would be an option?

    Gail
  13. #13
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by soonguy View Post
    That would be one way to look at it I guess... as it stands my 'unlawful activities' appear to have been the right choice. Suppose I had this tenant sign a lease and not had the ability to get him out ASAP. How destroyed would my home be at this point? I probably would still be shoveling dog **** out of my home. Then I have some scumbag tenant who I cant get out and is continuing to ruin my home. CA evictions take MONTHS all the while his dog will continue to **** uncontrollably in my home. So yes it may have been unlawful but since he couldn't even pay the pet deposit I would have had little chance to get him to pay for even more damages had he continued to live there.

    As far as the IRS every American hides some small degree of income from the IRS. Personally I find it very hard to beleive you have never hid a single CENT from the IRS. A bit like the pot calling the kettle black but whatever... Enjoy your fascist point of view.
    Actually, only a very low percentage of people are dumb enough to hide money from the IRS. You aren't talking about the 20.00 once a month or so that Aunt Sally pays you to watch her kids while she has a night out. You are talking about regular income.

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