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)
9. File a lawsuit; or defend against one
Before you file a lawsuit in small claims court, I highly recommend you have an attorney go over your presentation folder first, so he can point out any weaknesses. Generally, if you (as the plaintiff) sue the landlord (as the defendant) in small claims court and lose, you can’t file another claim against the landlord, and you can’t appeal the decision (although the defendant can appeal if you win). Also note that the landlord may choose to file a counter claim against you. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid case before proceeding, since you won’t get a second chance. If you are seeking more than $7,500 in California (you can sue for a maximum of $7,500 in small claims court in California), you may want to consider going to superior court, where you can have an attorney plead your case for the higher amount.
There is a lot to consider in making this decision, so don’t be hasty. Have the attorney tell you the advantages and disadvantages of small claims court versus superior court. On the other hand, if your landlord is suing you in small claims court, you may or may not want to file a counter claim. If you file a counter suit, then you can’t file a lawsuit against the landlord later. We didn't, so we could sue the landlord in superior court if we so chose. So, for example, maybe the small claims court judge rules you don’t owe the landlord any additional money, but that you don’t get your deposit back, either. You may want to sue in superior court for your security deposit, because you’ll have an attorney represent you and therefore have more time to explain your case. This could give you a better chance of recovering your security deposit and also being awarded “bad faith” damages.
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
In the Preface I provide some Web sites for you to check out, including the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Los Angeles Superior Court. If your case is in California, be sure to read both Web sites as they pertain to small claims court. Otherwise, Google for similar Web sites in your state. Once you read through the information a couple of times, it should be fairly easy to understand what you need to do for small claims court, whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant.
Ken Carlson’s PDF booklet Security Deposit Recovery Kit (www.caltenantlaw.com) is specific to California, but even if you live out of state I suggest you read it because he gives information which will help you research the laws in your state. He has a lot of information about the process of using small claims court, which is not included in this book. Remember, one of the primary reasons why we won in court was because we consulted with Ken personally, and I reviewed his Web site multiple times. I suggest you do the same.