Former Landlord Threatening to Sue and Making Personal Threats

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

“I have been renting to own a home for the past year and a half.  The home owners got divorced and the husband started hinting about the wife wanting out of the home loan and put a few hints out about wanting us to just buy out the house.  It was already more than we could afford so we just moved out. The house was in poor shape when we moved in and now the owner is threatening to sue us unless we get the house back to what he is saying was the condition it was in when we moved in.  We think it is in better condition. We put new wood floors down and painted.  We also put in a new dish washer and left it. We also paid a $5000 deposit which he will not give back.  He says he will get quotes for repairs and sue us for the costs.  Can he do this? Especially since we paid a deposit??  He is also threatening me and saying things like “I’ll get you on the streets”, “I’ll get it one way or another”, and calling me a coward.  What should I do???”

Before we get to your property rights, you should seriously look into getting a restraining order.  It sounds like this person is making physical threats against you, and that’s never acceptable.

As for the property, you’ll need to take a look at your contract and see precisely what your rights and obligations are.  If it came to a lawsuit, you’re probably looking at each side presenting evidence on the condition of the property when you moved in versus when you moved out. If you think a judge will agree with you that the condition was as good or better at the end, then you shouldn’t be too afraid of that possibility.

As a practical matter, of course, the time and cost of litigation may mean that you’re willing to compromise for somewhat less than what you’re entitled to.  If you can get the owner to calm down and negotiate, hopefully you can reach a reasonable agreement somewhere in the middle.