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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33802
Experience:  15 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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We live in, and we are having a major issue with properly

Customer Question

Hi, we live in Virginia, and we are having a major issue with properly filing against an apartment complex (corporately owned) after moving out and receiving a $2000 bill for a month of rent we do not owe (we gave the due 60 days notice), along with a few weird apartment issues they had, mostly involving a stain in the tub (caused by a leak from an upstairs apartment that we had maintenance fix twice), along with a few other gotcha stuff, all of which falls in "normal wear and tear." We have photos of how we left the apartment the day we left, along with a copy of a request for a walk-through which never issued a response. The real problem is, we were told by the court office that we had to file in district court bc this was a corporate entity and lawyers would be involved (on their end). We were trying to file in small claims court. On top of that, we have received collection notices threatening to garnish our wages (not from a legal entity), plus this "debt" was immediately placed on our credit report, even though we advised them if our intent to file. To top it all off, we received a weird phone call from a paralegal with the corporate office today telling us we could not sue the corporation (and could they have that in writing), plus a small compromise on their behalf where they offered a couple hundred dollars off the bill. Which seems odd, if they don't want to be involved. Basically, they refused to be served. So, can we file in small claims court against the general manager of the property? I guess it's considered an LLC. The clerk's office said no, but we've filed three times, at $60 per pop, and we need to get this right. Does this make any sense? Sorry in advance for any iPhone errors. Tough to type on this thing. Please just let me know if you need further information. Thank you so much.
Ashly Pallister
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister 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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So, can we file in small claims court against the general manager of the property?

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You couldn't file against the general manager since he is just the agent of the landlord, not the actual landlord. You have to sue the actual owner of the property, which is the LLC, through their registered agent. The registered agent is the person or entity designated by the LLC to be able to accept legal service of process on their behalf.

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You can find out who the registered agent is by checking with the secretary of state on their website or by calling them to get the agent's name and address for service.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We dealt with the Secretary if State, but they gave us the wrong information. They told us to deal directly with the corporation, but they are saying they want it in writing that we will not sue them. But you're saying we can contact the apartment complex directly to find out who they utilize for legal services? Thanks. Sorry for the confusion. ;)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, one last thing: So you're implying this has to be filed in district court? Thanks again.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Not exactly... The actual complex will be owned by someone, probably an LLC or a corporation. In either case that is who you have to sue because the management company is just the agent for the landlord. Generally if you look at your lease to see who signed as the landlord, that will give you some idea as to who you need to sue.

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I find it incredibly unlikely that the complex will provide you any information willingly about how to sue them because you are in an adversarial situation. I meant you can call the Sec of State for that info or look on their website to see who is registered agent for the entity that owns the property as the landlord.

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As for the corporate office telling you you can't sue them, that is only true if they have actually leased the property to someone else who is actually your landlord. If A owns the land and buildings and leases it to B, and then B leases it to tenants, then B is the landlord of the tenants and who would be sued.

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But no, I am not sure why they are telling you that you have to file in District as there is nothing that would prevent you from filing against a company in small claims court. It is true that they have to have an attorney represent them, and they may file a motion to remove the case to District, but that wouldn't prevent you from initially filing the case in Small Claims and forcing them to file the motion to remove the case since you are under the small claims limit of $5,000.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK, thank you. I am checking with my husband (who works overnights at the local paper) to see if he has any follow-up questions. He has been the person dealing with this situation in most regards. I really appreciate your help tonight.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome. Just respond if you have further questions and we can work on this further..

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I should be online for at least another hour or so..

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thanks

Barrister