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Demand Letter To Tenant (Free Template)

Camila Lopez - Demand Letter - July 5, 2024

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Contents

    If you are a landlord and your tenant has not paid their rent on time or has violated any other terms of the lease agreement, a demand letter can be an effective way to communicate your demands. In the article below, we explain what to include in your demand letter, provide a sample demand letter template, and discuss what to do after sending a demand letter. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to your tenant? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Why is Sending a Demand Letter Important? 

    Sending a demand letter to a tenant can not only help you resolve your dispute but can serve several other purposes. 

    Here are at least four other reasons why you should send a demand letter to your tenant before taking legal action: 

    1. Depending on the state you are filing a lawsuit in, you may be required to demand payment from the other party before filing. For example, in California, small claims court demanding payment is a requirement. By sending a demand letter to your tenant for unpaid rent, you are fulfilling this requirement.  

    2. The laws of your state may require you to send notice to a tenant before taking legal action. For example, in New York, a landlord must first send a written rent demand that warns the tenant that if they don’t pay, the landlord will start eviction proceedings against them. You can fulfill this requirement by sending a demand letter. 

    3. A demand letter signals to your tenant that you are serious about resolving the dispute and that you are willing to take action.

    4. Sending a written demand letter assures you there is a record of your attempt to settle. So while some demands can be made orally, we recommend making any demands in writing. Writing a letter can sometimes be very effective as it is a more formal way of making a demand. 

    Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Write a Demand Letter to a Tenant?

    There is no formal requirement that states you need a lawyer to write your demand letter. You can do it on your own. 

    Here are two important factors to consider when deciding to hire a lawyer to write a demand letter are: 

    1. Cost. Hiring an attorney can be expensive, and the cost of drafting a demand letter may not be worth it for smaller claims.

    2. The complexity of the case. Everyone’s case is different, and housing laws are different in each state. If you have any doubts about your case or a specific housing law in your state, it may be worth consulting with a landlord/tenant attorney that specializes in these matters.  

    What to Include in Your Demand Letter 

    Below are suggestions on important elements to include in your letter: 

    • Make sure to include the facts of the case. For example, are you sending a demand letter to your tenant for damages to the property? If so, make sure to discuss exactly what was damaged and why it is the tenant’s responsibility to fix those damages. 

    • State your demand in a professional and concise manner. Make sure you keep a professional tone throughout the letter. Remember you are asking the tenant to pay or take some type of action to resolve the problem. You don’t want to jeopardize resolving the dispute by using argumentative language. 

    • Clearly state how much is owed. If you're sending a demand for payment of rent letter, include the time periods and amounts owed for each date. 

    • Reference any state laws or lease terms you are relying on. For example, if rent is due the first of each month as per the lease, reference the lease in the demand letter. 

    • Include your contact information, so the tenant knows where to reach you in case they want to accept your demands. Your tenant may already have your contact information but consider including a forwarding address as well in case they want to mail you a check for payment. 

    • Attach relevant documents. For example, your lease agreement or pictures of the property damage. 

    • Include a deadline and intent to sue language. Consider giving your tenant 14 days to respond to you and state that if they do not respond within that time, you intend to take legal action. You may want to check your state laws to see if you are required to give your tenant more or less time to respond.  

    Once you have sent your demand letter, keep it in your records. In the event you do end up filing a small claims lawsuit, you can bring it to the hearing and show it to the judge. This is especially handy if your tenant claims they didn’t receive notice. 

    Sample Demand Letter to a Tenant

     

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to your tenant? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Below is a sample demand letter for rental payments. When using this sample rent demand letter, replace those facts with facts from your situation and insert the relevant information of your dispute. If you're dealing with an eviction or unpaid rent, confirm any additional elements your state may require you to include in your letter.

    [Your Name]

    [Your Address]

    [Date]

    [Tenant’s Name]

    [Tenant’s Address]

    RE: [Subject of your demand letter] 

    Dear [Tenant’s Name], 

    I am hereby providing notice that I have not received rent payments of [amount owed]. I am attempting to resolve this out of court, but if we cannot come to an agreement, I intend to sue. 

    As you know, you signed a lease for the year starting on [date lease term began] to move into [rental unit information]. As per the lease agreement (attached to this demand letter), you were responsible for paying [rent amount] each month for the duration of the lease term. Since [date tenant stopped paying rent], you have not paid rent.  

    Accordingly, take notice that you owe rent payments for the following period(s): 

    • [For each missed payment, include the amount due and the time period]

    I look forward to resolving this matter amicably, and I am amenable to discussing mediation. You may contact me at [your email] if you would like to discuss this matter further. Please deliver payment to the address listed above. 

    If I do not hear from you by [14 days from now], you leave me no alternative but to file a lawsuit against you. In the event of a lawsuit, I intend to seek redress to the fullest extent permitted by law, including, but not limited to, additional damages, legal services costs, court costs, and accrued interest. 

    Sincerely,

    _____________________________

    [Your signature]

    How to Send a Demand Letter to a Tenant 

    The most common way people send their demand letter is via email or mail. Note, your state laws may require that you send a demand letter to a tenant for rent via certified mail or another specified method

    Information on how to demand rent payment or send eviction notices is usually in court guides like this New York Court Guide. You may also want to look up legal aid guides published by nonprofit organizations in your state. For example, in Texas, TexasLawHelp.org offers information on eviction rules.  

    Next Steps After Sending a Demand Letter  

    If you send your tenant a demand letter and they don’t respond, consider suing your tenant in small claims court. Small claims court is a type of court that handles disputes involving small amounts of money, typically for up to $10,000. The proceedings in small claims courts are typically more efficient and less formal than in other courts and are often designed for people to represent themselves without the need for an attorney

    Common Lawsuits Against Tenants in Small Claims Court 

    Landlords can sue their tenants in small claims court as long as they are suing for an amount within the small claims limit. Below are some common small claims lawsuits filed against tenants: 

    • Breach of contract. For example, your tenant violated a term of the lease agreement.

    • Money owed. For example, you are suing your tenant for unpaid rent payments.  

    • Dispute over security deposits.

    • Property damage. For example, your tenant damaged the rental unit and refuses to fix the damages.   

    Note, there may be a better court that can handle your claim against a tenant. For example, in New York City, Housing Court handles eviction cases. So if you would like to commence eviction proceedings against your tenant because they ignored your demand letter and still haven’t paid rent, a court like Housing Court may be a better option. 

    How Much Does it Cost to Sue a Tenant in Small Claims Court? 

    This varies by state and sometimes even by court. For an accurate cost, check your local court's website. You can expect to pay between $15-$75 to file a small claims case in most courts.

    How Long Do You Have to Sue a Tenant in Small Claims Court? 

    States have set deadlines, called statutes of limitations, that let you know by when you should sue someone. These deadlines will vary by state and by type of claim. For example, if you are filing a small claims lawsuit against your tenant for breach of contract, you would need to look up the breach of contract statute of limitations in your state. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a demand letter to your tenant? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Author

    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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