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Can a landlord sue for "unpaid rent"? No lease. We have paid all 6 months rent, mostly cash. No receipts. I have already moved.

Albany, NY |

The 3 of us almost always pay in cash and never got receipts. The receipt for security deposit was made out to a girl who moved out after the 1st month. The landlord never bothered giving us a lease or taking our names or phone numbers, or telling us where to send rent to for the 1st 3 months. She rarely answered our calls and would just show up unannounced at random times to collect rent. Now 2 of us have moved out ( as we initially told the landlord we would in May) and 1 new tenant (friend of the 3rd room mate is moved in.) The Landlord called us after we have already moved out and claims we still owe her april rent (which we did pay, two of us paid in check) and wants to sue. How will she try to prove her case? And can she kick out the new tenant? Thanks for your time.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. If a person has no lease, he/she may be evicted with proper notice. Landlords may sue for unpaid rent as well as fair compensation for any holdovers' use and occupancy after commencement of proceedings.


  2. She would testify before the court. It will be your word against hers. Be sure you have as much evidence as possible and witnesses, if possible.


  3. Dear Albany former tenant:

    The landlord is no longer allowed to use the summary proceeding for nonpayment of rent because you moved out. If the landlord claims the existence of an unpaid debt, just as with anyone else the landlord could sue in Small Claims Court. The court may very well hold the landlord liable for her own loss in rent or for accounting for rent, because she did not provide receipts for rent paid in cash, even though she was compelled by law to do so.

    You placed yourself in in an unconventional relation because you did not demand a written rental agreement and you did not demand a receipt for rent you paid in cash.

    In any event the burden of proof is on the landlord. Aside from the fact that her business practice likely provided an untraceable source of undeclared cash income, the fact that she choose to rent without a written lease to learn your names or telephone numbers makes it not likely that she can sue and less likely to win if she does so. Because she has no "business records" all she could use to prove her claim would be her own oral testimony and perhaps your own admissions.

    Good luck.

    The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.


  4. As has been stated, she can sue in small claims court. Because you don't have checks or receipts, I would start to try to compile bank statements that would show you taking out large sums of money that would show you took out the money for rent. It isn't perfect, but it is probably the best you are going to do. You may want to contact a lawyer. They may be able to write a letter to make it go away quickly