Posted by Dayann on August 09, 2001 at 17:29:14:
In Reply to: NYC Small Claims: Do I need a lawyer? posted by luke on August 09, 2001 at 09:47:49:
the LL can bring any lawyer he wants, but if the fact is that you paid security and left the apartment in good condition and you didn't get your deposit back, and you have all the documentation a human being can gather to prove that you paid your security, left the premises in good condition when you moved, and didn't owe the landlord any money for anything, there is very little that lawyer can do. The lawyer can only work with what is in the law and the evidence your landlord has against you. If you know you followed the law and you have more evidence to back yourself up than your landlord, you're fine. Don't let someone intimidate you just because they have "Esq" after their last name. (No offense to the lawyers who frequent this site.)
If you feel more comfortable having a lawyer, too, then see what you can do about having one come to court with you just for one day. Sometimes if you're nervous that the other side has a lawyer and you don't you may get jittery and forget things, etc. Find out if you can include attorney's fees in your suit (you may not be able to, but it never hurts to ask). That way, if your previous landlord loses he will have to not only pay you your security deposit back but reimburse you the attorney's costs. You may not be able to do this but you can ask and if the answer is "no" you can't amend your complaint or collect attorney's fees, then you aren't any worse off than you were to begin with. Even if the judge is slightly miffed at you for bringing up attorney's fees when it is too late to amend your complaint, the judge can't make a ruling that doesn't conform to the law, and if the law is on your side and you truly deserve to get your deposit back, you'll get it even if the judge thought you made a stupid request earlier in the suit.
Now for the disclaimer'' I'm not a lawyer. I was a legal secy for a long time and so I have some idea about how lawyers do things and how judges do things, and I've typed up so many damned answers for civil suits that I probably SHOULD be a lawyer.
But anyway since I'm not a lawyer, don't take what I say as the absolute truth. If you get overwhelmed, get a consultation from someone.
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