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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 32369
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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A former tenant is threatening to sue me in small claims court

Customer Question

A former tenant is threatening to sue me in small claims court over their deposit ($700) that wasn't returned due to damages they left behind. I live in a different state (CO) and wouldn't want to spend money on traveling back to (WI) to show up. Can a judgment be issued against me in small claims court that would ultimately affect my credit score? and if so, what's the cheapest way to find out what the "fair" number would be for the carpet damages they left behind?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, they say since it's been 21 days they can legally ask for double the damages, and now are asking for $1276 within 5 days, or they will take me to small claims court. What are my options?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.
Yes, a judgment in small claims court can show up on your credit just as a judgment from a higher court can and it can affect your credit rating.
As to the carpet damages, are you asking how to find out how much you would ask for in a counter suit?
If so, what evidence do you have as to the damages? Is the carpet still in the same condition as when they left? What kind of evidence do you have as to the condition of the carpet when they moved in?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you Dwayne! I have pictures of the clean carpet when they moved in. And then pictures of the stains they made when they moved out. In correspondence they admit to the stains, and one in particular is a pretty big one, is where I got a quote to replace b/c it could not be cleaned. In the meantime I put the property on the market and the buyer just negotiated the price down because of the stains, so I didn't end up replacing carpet. I consider the loss in the negotiated price that was due to the stains they left behind, part of their responsibility and therefore held back their deposit with quotes and explanations as why. I'm new to "landlord -hood" so per the lessee they didn't return the property back in the condition it was, minus normal wear and tear.If they sue me, what can I ask for in the counter suit and can they really get attorney fees? I thought small claims court doesn't have attorneys... I am confused.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
In Wisconsin you can have an attorney in small claims court and in a case like this if they win they could recover their attorney's fees. However, since they damaged the place if you countersue and win you can recover your attorney's fees as well so you should consider going ahead and hiring one now to assist you.
There's also a good inexpensive e-book on handling your own small claims court case at this site. You can get that and read it and then make an informed decision as to whether you want to take his on yourself or get the lawyer.
You can ask for the damages they caused in the countersuit although it will be a little harder to prove "reduction in value" that it would have been to prove the cost of cleaning the carpet, etc. Not impossible, just harder. You can call the buyers, your real estate agent, etc. as witnesses to what they thought about the damage and the amount they believed it reduced the value to them.