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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 101040
Experience:  Attorney
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I had a storage unit. I cleaned it out in December and mailed

Customer Question

I had a storage unit. I cleaned it out in December and mailed the keys back to owner first of January. There is no office or physical address for the business. Now 5 1/2 months he calls and says I owe rent for those months. He called me a liar and was very very rude and nasty. I explained I did not have keys and hadn't had anything in the unit since last of December. He said it is my word against his. Why did he wait so long to bring this matter to our attention?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; (B) Due to possible ethical issues, the site allows experts not participate in phone calls and I may or may not be able to participate in this feature; and (C) There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.
I am sorry to hear about this situation. Can you please tell me if the lease stated (do you have a copy or remember) what you were supposed to do at the end of the term? Sign anything? Or simply send in the keys and that is it?
This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
There was no signed lease,we have had it for years. I sent keys to him just like I had always sent the payments. There was never any physical office
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.
Well then he is correct. It is then his word versus yours. However, it is he who would have to prove this by a preponderance of the evidence, which is 51% or over.
So one can simply say that nothing is owed, and that he can to file in small claims court but likely, not succeed at all, and that one considers this to be the end of the conversation and then hang up.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Gentle Reminder: Use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please rate when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces/stars and then SUBMIT, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars or failing to submit the rating does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He has just served us with papers to go to court, now adding on almost $300 in court costs. Does he have to prove that I didn't send the keys?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Yes. He would have to show that the lease continued.
Someone in your situation wants to file an ANSWER denying said claims with the court, and also send a copy to the other party as well.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How do I file an answer??? This is all new to me and very scary.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
A copy of the answer is sent to the opposing party and one to the court, certified letter, return receipt requested. If the party has an attorney, one sends the answer to that attorney.
EXAMPLE of such an answer is below:
[caption] - TITLE AND PARTIES (just copy of their filing)
DEFENDANT'S ANSWER (centered)
NOW COMES Defendant, YOUR NAME, named Defendant in the above-entitled and numbered cause, and files this Answer, and shows the Court:
FACTS
(one's version of facts)
GENERAL DENIAL
Defendant denies allegations in paragraph 1 of Plaintiff’s pleading.
Defendant denies allegations in paragraph 2 of Plaintiff’s pleading.
Defendant denies allegations in paragraph 3 of Plaintiff’s pleading.
Defendant denies allegations in paragraph 4 of Plaintiff’s pleading.
(etc)
Defendant denies each and every allegation of Plaintiff's Complaint, and demands strict proof thereof as required by rules of evidence and procedure for the State of Virginia
PRAYER
Defendant prays the Court, after notice and hearing or trial, enters judgment in favor of Defendant, awards Defendant the costs of court, attorney's fees, and such other and further relief as Defendant may be entitled to in law or in equity.
Respectfully submitted,
Your Signature
Your name

(NEW PAGE)
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE (centered)
I certify that on (date filed) a true and correct copy of Defendant's Answer was served to the opposing party.
Your Signature
Your name

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have a case that is winnable?? Should I fight it or just give up? This is all so upsetting.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
I cannot tell you what the Judge will say. However, again, the onus is on them to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is 51% or over. In a he said/she said scenario, this really depends on who is most believable, and the Court may be somewhat hesitant to believe a landlord without any proof.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK so next step is to send his lawyer the response from above?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Correct.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use the REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or rate positively and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.