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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 33768
Experience:  Attorney for over 15 years, landlord 26 years
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Plaintiff discusses renting a $1,400/month apartment from respondent,

Customer Question

Plaintiff discusses renting a $1,400/month apartment from respondent, and asks for a security deposit of $1,400. Plaintiff pays the $1,400 deposit in cash and gets no receipt. A few days latter, the would-be landlord calls plaintiff says she is upping the rent. The would-be tenant/plaintiff says she cannot afford the higher amount and that she will look elsewhere. The plaintiff never occupies the apartment. Plaintiff asks for her security deposit back but the respondent/would-be landlord says it is non-refundable. Should the plaintiff put the respondent on the witness stand, is there an artful sequence of questions the plaintiff should ask that would trap the respondent it implying she accepted the deposit. i.e. After a series of simple questions, the plaintiff could ask "Did you tell me that my deposit was non-refundable?"
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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Does the plaintiff have any proof that they paid the $1,400? (i.e. bank withdrawal records, testimony from any witnesses, texts, emails, etc.)
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Is plaintiff suing the defendant in small claims court?
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I doubt that there were any witnesses. I don't know about bank accounts, but will ask. The plaintiff may be undocumented and not have a bank account. I plan to help her write her complaint for either the Maryland small claims court (under $5,000) or the District court. If witness testimony in the small claims court is not under the penalty of perjury, I will suggest she file in the District court. My question is more related to examining witnesses rather than landlord-tenant. do you prefer telephone?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry, but I can’t engage in a private one on one phone call as that could imply an attorney-client relationship which I am prohibited from entering into under my independent contractor agreement with JustAnswer.
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But as for examining the "landlord", the plaintiff should proceed under the assumption that they will either lie and claim that they never received any money or that the deposit was non-refundable. If the landlord lies and states that they never accepted any money, it would be up to the judge to determine who is more credible with their testimony.
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Logically, it would not make sense for the plaintiff to decide to sue if they didn't have a legitimate claim and just picked the landlord out of a hat to try and sue. But without any type of proof of payment, it might be hard to prove their case. So anything that they can bring to substantiate their claims will help.
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If the landlord tries to claim that the deposit was non-refundable, this won't fly with the judge because when they tried to increase the rent, they breached the oral contract that was entered into at the $1,400 rental amount.
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So trapping the landlord with a question about whether they gave out a receipt stating it was non-refundable would be a good way to get them to admit that they did accept a deposit.
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The landlord will have no idea what evidence the plaintiff will present in court, so if they show up with a bunch of papers and another person or two, even if they have no direct knowledge of the situation, it might scare the landlord into sticking with the story that it was a non-refundable deposit rather than lying about receiving anything at all.
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thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know that the deposit is refundable. But if the respondent says she told the plaintiff that her deposit was non-refundable, that would be a tacit admission that some deposit was taken by her. We have access to the previous tenants and could use their testimony as to the amount of the rent and the deposit. The type of answer I am looking for is: "Ask this series of questions:
1. state your name please. 2. Did you discuss with X about renting your apartment? How many bedrooms does the apartment have? Is it easy or difficult to find a parking space in the lot? Did you tell X that her deposit was non-refundable? etc."I am in no hurry for the answer. I believe the Maryland statute of limitations for a tort such as conversion is 3 years.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.
Unfortunately I am not able to provide the kind of trial preparation assistance that you are seeking.
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I will opt out and open the question for other experts to help.
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Your account hasn't been charged and there is no need to reply as it will only prevent other experts from helping.
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thanks
Barrister

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