HELP with Lawsuit to get Security Deposit back

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  1. #1
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    HELP with Lawsuit to get Security Deposit back

    Hi,

    We moved out from an apartment we were renting and now we can't get our security deposit.

    - Lease expired 1+ years ago but we continued to pay rent on time every month. Landlord never addressed expired lease. There is no automatic renewal clause.

    - Landlord wanted to raise rent so we told him we would move out as soon as we found a place within the next month or two. We didn't realize we needed to give written 30 days notice even with an expired lease and landlord didn't tell us either. We told him verbally we would move out on the 1st of the month about 20 days prior to move-out.

    - Landlord said we didn't give sufficient notice but he would disregard this if we helped get the unit rented. We spent a LOT of time advertising the unit and showing it. Unit was rented within a few weeks and new tenants moved in one month after we moved out. Also, some of the potential tenants told me they were interested in moving in but landlord told them it wouldn't be available until one month after we had moved out! Also, before we moved in, landlords wife had said they had a hard time getting it rented and it had been empty for 6 months!

    - The day after we moved out we did a walk through inspection. Landlord was impressed with how clean it was. and asked for the keys and address to return our security deposit.

    - More than 30 days after vacating, landlord send an email and he is deducting most of our deposit (half a month rent, missing keys (but he took the keys from us!), other charges that are ridiculous and even his math didn't add up and the amount on the check was different than on his calculations!). We told him we didn't think what he did was right and that he broke his promise to us to refund the deposit and disregard the notice if we helped get the unit rented.

    - We took him to small claims but at the last second judge changed her mind and said because we deposited the cashier's check for partial security deposit then that meant we agreed to his terms and couldn't come back to sue (we told him verbally we didn't agree to the amount and there was nothing written on the check that it was "full and final payment" or anything like that. Also we sent several letters asking for the rest of our deposit).

    - Now we have asked for a new judge trial mostly because I think we are completely in the right legally and I don't want him to get away with this deception and trickery.. Landlord has now countersued for an amount more than we sued him for but that includes money he has already taken from our deposit!!! (half a month rent, late fees, cleaning behind the appliances -- i.e. pull appliances out from their place against the wall)

    What do you think of our case? Some of the things I am not sure about include whether every point in the expired lease is in effect after it expired because we continued to pay rent or is it just the general terms of when rent is due and how much, etc. For example would late fees still be in effect?

    What are the best resources to figure out the legal precedents for my state and what forms I need to fill out? The amount is too small to justify hiring a lawyer at $200/hr.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
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    Generally the terms in the lease continue even after the lease has expired, except the lease runs from month to month. It seems like you have some trouble proving certain things because everything you have done has been verbal. I recommend consulting with a local attorney, either to put on a good offense or prepare for a defense for his counter-suit.
    Legal Disclaimer: Answers to questions on this forum are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute Legal Advice. No attorney-client relationship is established through this forum.


 

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