Skip to main content

Can I be sued a second time for unpaid rent after an order of eviction has been filed?

Belleville, NJ |

My landlord took me to court for nonpayment of 1.5 mo. rent, which resulted in a voluntary eviction order placed by the judge to have us removed and nullify back-owed rent on our part. We filed for a 7-day extension, received it, and LL filed for an accelerated hearing. A new judge, uninterested in any previous matters between us, suggested during said hearing that LL file civil suit against me for the 1.5 mo. rent. If orig. judge has already ordered that we leave the apt. and not pay back-rent, can LL sue me a second time, or is this "double jeopardy"?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2

Posted

Double jeopardy only applies to criminal matters. First of all, actions for nonpayment of rent and seeking eviction are separate and apart from actions which determine liability for rent owed pursuant to your lease/contract with the landlord. The first action was likely for the purpose of evicting you and re-taking possession of the property. Your landlord would be within his/her rights to sue you for any unpaid rent owed pursuant to your lease for the duration you lived there and did not pay rent.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.

Asker

Posted

Not sure if this matters, but the original judge asked us if we feel we owed the LL said unpaid rent (due to no heat for 2 winters), to which we said no...he asked then if we'd rather take said monies and move, to which we said yes. He then said we could do so, but it would have to be filed as an order of eviction, as there is no other way to make that happen, to which we said ok.

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

I often tell people this...anyone can sue anyone for anything. Whether the lawsuit has merit is another story. If your landlord attempts to sue you for unpaid rent, it doesn't necessarily mean he will prevail. It sounds as if you certainly have some good defenses -- the first being a lack of heat and the second being the previous hearing. Raise both of those issues if you are sued. I think if your landlord sues you and you walk into court with the prior court's determination that you could move out due to no heat then it would be highly unlikely for your landlord to prevail on his claims.

Asker

Posted

excellent, thanks! I sincerely doubt he'd win, as we've got plenty of evidence/certified letters/etc. to back up our side of the story, but just checking to see if I should perhaps consider having a lawyer on standby for when that happens. :) Thanks a bunch!

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

Good luck!

Posted

You need to get the prior judgment entered for possession and see what it says. An L/T action is generally for possession not money. If the order specifically precludes the recovery of the rent, then you have a leg to stand on. If it is silent, probably not.

Asker

Posted

I would assume that such is the case (all my prior documents are currently packed away for the move). LL filed two separate "nonpayment of rent" summons against us, one in Dec and one in Feb, both heard by the same judge. In both hearings, LL himself mentioned reclaiming his rent but never eviction. First time, due to his sec.dep. mismanagement, we were able to reclaim our SD plus 7% interest to pay the "owed" rent. Second time, we told judge we don't feel we owe anything when forced to live without heat and amongst known thieves. Judge seemed to agree and allowed us to be voluntarily evicted rather than pay back-owed rent. I'll probably have to go request the paperwork at the courthouse when I'm finished moving, so I guess I'll have to wait to know for sure. :) Thanks for the help!

Matthew R Schutz

Matthew R Schutz

Posted

No p

Landlord-tenant topics

Recommended articles about Landlord-tenant

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer