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On my way to small claims

Posted by Kenny on January 10, 2001 at 15:59:13:

Hi all.

I visited here a few months ago with some questions.

My ex-landlord still has our $3000 security deposit, even though we moved out on Halloween. He has offered to 'settle' for giving us back $1200. He wants to keep $1800 for a laundry list of damages he claims we did.

We lived in this 3 BR house for 2 years. He had completely remodeled the house right before we moved in, so it looked pretty much brand new on the inside. His contention is that we should have returned the premises to the 'like-new' condition in which we found it.

This guy also took us to court twice to have us evicted (for his own selfish, personal reasons, not because we did things that deserved eviction). He failed twice, but the second time, we signed a stipulation in court that exchanged a warrant of eviction for Oct. 31, 2000 (the end of our lease) so he didn't have to take us back to court if we refursed to leave. This was in exchange for one month's rent waiver (approx $1800).

His communications have made it obvious to us that he is simply trying to recoup the month's rent he lost in the settlement.

Anyway, these so-called damages include:
Painting the whole place. (not in bad shape, just 'lived in') ($300)
Full-Cleaning service cleaning ($325)
Buffing and refinishing floors, replacing chipped tiles (I had to practically put my nose to the floor to see the chips)
re-coating the driveway - all normal wear and tear stuff.
I his letter, he was even stupid enough to include verbeage like 'refinish brand new this or that', 'repaint newly painted house', etc.

in addition, he has not given one shred of paper - bills, estimates, receipts, etc. to back up his claims, only his own estimates (which are outraheous, to say the least).

He doesn't know this, but the last thing I did on the day we moved out, before i locked the door for the last time, was I took video of the whole place. I knew he was going to try to screw us, but unfortunately, I didn't know what areas he was going to screw us on, so I took video of the whole house, but didn't really concentrate on each individual item. Looking back on the tape, it's easy to see that the condition of the house is very good (way better than what we moved into), but I didn't spend extra time on the tile floor, for example, because I never even noticed there was any damage.

I guess my question is, should I go into court and just say 'we left the place "broom clean, reasonable wear and tear excepted" and he hasn't given us his money back'. and then let him spew his lies upon lies and then diffuse each one? should I show the court the security deposit checks that say 'cashed' on the back of them? should i bring up the issue of him trying to recoup a months lost rent in an unsuccessful litigation? Do you think it's advisable or not advisable to shed light on his real motive for keeping our $1800?

How far does he have to go to prove his case and we ours? does he need pictures of the 'damages' or does he just need an estimate or a bill from one of his crooked contractor friends?

another question: He's trying to sell the house. As it happens, we befriended his broker and she found us the place we're living now. In a phone conversation I told her I expected him to give us grief about the Security and she said "the place looks great - he'll give you your money back without a problem.", Should I subpoena her? She certainly won't be happy about showing up being that it's a conflict of interest for her business to testify against him...the phone conversation which i mentioned was witnessed by my lawyer. How easy is it to convince people to testify against their will?

Any advice and insight anybody has would be helpful, thanks.

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