Recover Your Security Deposit!
Defeat your landlord in small claims court–just like we did.

Table of Contents
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Preface - Home Page
Foreword - by Ken Carlson, tenant attorney

PART I: Some basic guidelines
1. Break your lease
2. Get your security deposit returned

PART II: Prepare for small claims court
3. Learn your state’s landlord tenant law
4. Contact former and current tenants
5. Organize your evidence
6. Consult with an attorney
7. Write a rebuttal to landlord’s claims
8. Create a presentation folder
9. File a lawsuit; or defend against one
10. Testify, and win, in small claims court
11. Collect the judgment

PART III: Winning presentation folder
12. Follow our lead (eBook)
13. Front cover (eBook)
14. Small claims lawsuits (eBook)
15. Plaintiff’s clams (eBook)
16. Defendant’s rebuttal (eBook)
17. Move-in, move-out timeline (eBook)
18. Landlord tenant law violations (eBook)
19. Photographic evidence (eBook)
20. Exhibits (eBook)
21. Conclusion (eBook)
22. Court ordered judgment (eBook)

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Preface (Home Page)

Marilyn and I created this web site (herinafter called "book") to share with you the presentation strategy we used to successfully defeat Marilyn’s former landlord in small claims court. The landlord violated her rights as a tenant, made numerous false claims and filed several lawsuits against her. Eventually we realized that he was trying to use the small claims court system to scam her out of a large sum of money, and that he had successfully used the same tactic to scam other tenants before her. Small claims court is a get-rich-quick scheme for him, since there are no laws prohibiting deceitful claims. This book is meant for you and other tenants who find themselves in a similar situation with an unethical landlord, or for those who simply need to break their lease and would like to do it legally in order to successfully recover their security deposit.

Every state has its own set of laws designed to protect tenants in that state. These laws are collectively termed “the landlord tenant law.” Although the information contained herein is based on California landlord tenant law, the principles which we used to win in small claims court apply to tenants of every state. Whether you live in California or another state, you will want to research the landlord tenant law of your state to ensure that you have full knowledge of your legal rights as a tenant. This is important because a judge may not understand the landlord tenant law in depth as it applies to your situation, and if you don’t bring the specifics to his attention, you may not win in court.

Dear Larry: Just wanted to say thanks. Your website/book helped us win in court. I spent several hours preparing our binder and felt very organized going into court. Looking around we saw everyone else come in with loose papers just like you had said. We felt very prepared, but unfortunately the judge hardly looked at our binder. He just looked at what the landlord lacked as proof and awarded us judgement. Although the binder wasn't the deciding factor, it sure did help us have the confidence to stand up to our landlord in court. ~ Sincerely, Tonia Baily

Larry helped me get my deposit back from my slumlord. I highly recommend his presentation folder and expertize. I would not have received a dime without his help! Heather Hoffman Kimel

You can use our understanding of California landlord tenant law as a way to understand what you should look for in your own state’s landlord tenant law. The Internet search engine “Google” is a great resource you can use to find the landlord tenant law of your state by typing in “landlord tenant law” and the name of your state. You can also find a list of the landlord tenant laws for specific states by going to The Landlord Protection Agency Web site: If you live in California, you can also check out the following resources (which I used extensively to prepare for court):

1. Attorney Ken Carlson’s excellent Web site devoted to tenants’ rights: I searched the Web for landlord tenant information, and Ken’s Web site is by far the most informative. For only $20, you can also download Ken’s comprehensive PDF (eBook) workbook devoted to the logistics of using small claims court and getting your deposit back. I highly recommend you buy his workbook, because he explains details on how to use small claims court that are not covered in this book.

2. The actual California landlord tenant law dealing with security deposits and breaking a lease: Civil Code 1950.5 (security deposit), 1951.2 (breaking the lease) and 1953 (tenant’s rights in relation to lease agreement and 1950.5). Go to, click on “Civil Code” and press return, then go to Title 5, Chapter 2 and click on that link (CC 1940 – 1954.1).

3. If you need legal advice, consult with Ken Carlson for 1/2 hour ($100) over the phone, or find a local attorney who specializes in landlord tenant law (California attorneys are listed on Ken Carlson’s Web site). We talked with several attorneys, and Ken was the best we found. In fact, had we listened to some of the other attorneys, Marilyn could have lost another couple thousand dollars to her former landlord. As it turns out, we applied Ken’s advice and Marilyn not only saved a lot of money, but we won in court as well. Thank you, Ken!

4. If you plan to use small claims court (or are being sued in small claims court), read through the Department of Consumer Affairs Web site devoted to the subject:

5. Learn more at the Los Angeles Superior Court Web site: You can also download L.A. County legal forms from this Web site.

I want to stress that this book does not cover the legalities of the small claims court system, but rather it is a strategy book geared towards helping you properly present your evidence so you’ll win in court. For the legalities and an understanding of how the small claims court system operates, consider Ken Carlson’s PDF booklet I just mentioned, or contact your local small claims court and request information from the clerk.

Knowing your legal rights as a tenant, as defined by your state law, is only part of the battle with your landlord. Remember, if your landlord keeps your deposit based on false claims, he either already knows the law or is acting out of arrogance. In either case, if you want your deposit back, you require a solid strategy that will ensure you win in court. That is the purpose of this book: to share the presentation strategy we used to win our case in small claims court.

Larry Cook
Marilyn Frazier
Los Angeles, California

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