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I'm surprised that the UK court said they couldn't do anything because the tenant was now outside the UK. Jurisdiction, in that case, is not based on where the tenant is now but the fact that the tenant lived there at the time of the contract and activity for which you now have a claim and are seeking to sue him. Thus, I don't know why you couldn't sue him in the UK. In any event, I'm not a UK attorney, so I'll tell you about US law.
You should be able to sue him in the court of the county in which he is a resident in his home state. That court would have jurisdiction over him. You could not sue him in a court of the state where you are a resident, assuming it is a different state, because that court would not generally have jurisdiction over the tenant without him having established some sort of contact with the state.
You would, as noted, sue him in his home state. It gets a bit tricky there, because the substantive law that would apply is the contract law and other applicable laws of the UK -- since that is where the contract was made, damages incurred, etc. But a US court can apply those controlling laws and enforce an action against the tenant.
US procedural laws apply to the action, and you may be able to bring a small claims case against the tenant depending on the amount of damages you seek.
would it be better therefore to go through the UK courts? or just as effective to go through the US courts?
The amount of damages im looking at is around £3100 ( so roughly $4600)
The problem with going through UK courts is that although you might be able to get a judgment against the tenant, forcing him to pay would be another matter. You would then have the burden of getting a foreign country's judgment domesticated in the US state where this person is a resident. Thus, proceeding in that court in the first instance is probably a much better remedy.
You will need to check the small claims court limits in the state where you will need to sue this person (wherever he is a resident). I'm not sure if that is CA or not. You can look up the small claims limits on google.com or some other search engine.
How do i go about doing that?? and how high are fees going to be?? I am seriously lacking in funds at the moment - (primarily as a result of having no rental income for the last three months !)
How do you go about what?
go about court proceedings over here..
What state is this person in?
yes I am based in CA .. he is based in WA
is that washington??
Yes, Washington. As noted above, a CA court will not have jurisdiction, so you would have to proceed in WA court. Unless you're willing to drive to WA for at least one hearing, you should retain an attorney in WA to assist you with filing and prosecuting the small claims action against this person.
In fact, having an attorney would be best regardless since you are not in WA. Although small claims cases are relatively straight forward, it's very difficult to take legal action from outside the state.
what kind of cost is involved.. would he pay those costs if he were found at fault?
But for your information, here is a link to WA small claims procedures:
Filing fees, costs, etc. are generally under $100, but then count fees paid to any attorney, the value of your time, etc.
www.martindale.com is a very good website for locating attorneys in specific areas. You could find a WA attorney there that could assist you.
Here is a link to forms for small claims matters:
Between those two links, you'll be able to find the information you need for a WA small claims action. However, I would again advise retaining an attorney for assistance since you are not in WA.
do you think the case is pretty straight forward - i mean the likelyhood of me winning if i were to start proceedings?
An attorney would generally not charge more than $1,000 for this type of action, but you would have to ask around and get estimates from attorneys.
If you had a contract and he didn't pay under the contract and had no excuse under the contract, then it is a straight forward case.
Yep i have contracts and a backlog of emails between him and my estate agent stating that he would be liable for the rent until the end of the contract when he asked to leave 4months before it was due to end
Sounds, then, like you have a fairly straight forward case.
So those attorney fees - if i were to win the case would the tenant pay those as a result?
Some small claims procedures allow for attorney fees. Your contract might also provide for attorney fees. But it must be in the contract of specifically provided for by WA law. Otherwise you cannot get attorney fees because of what is known as the "American Rule" -- each party pays his own fees and costs.
That's something that would be discussed in the information presented at the links I provided.
So if i just look over those links and contact some attorneys to get estimates and i guess they'll be able to advise me more specifically - thanks for those..
Am i able to discuss this further with you at a later date or once this discussion finishes now is that it? I havnt used this website before
I was looking over more information for you. In WA, attorneys are not generally allowed to participate in small claims cases. This is unusual, so that might be the first thing you ask when speaking with an attorney. Because they are not generally allowed to participate, you most likely would not be able to recoup attorney fees. In a regular civil case, though, you may, depending on whether there is a specific WA statute allowing you to recoup attorney fees (or if the contract allows it). These are such specific inquiries that you would need to discuss those issues with a WA attorney
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"In WA, attorneys are not generally allowed to participate in small claims cases." - so how do small claim cases happen if attorneys can not participate?
Sorry, I thought I mentioned that above. Generally, a person just sues in small claims and handles it him or herself. They do it "pro se" - without an attorney. But being out of state would make that very difficult for you to do.
ahh I see, cool i'll look into those links and contact you if i hit any other questions.. Thanks for your time!!
And, even though small claims procedures are designed to be easy and used without an attorney, most states allow you to hire an attorney if you want. That's why it's unusual that WA has a prohibition of attorney involvement in small claims matters.
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