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When a tenant objects to a landlord's use of the security deposit, the landlord is supposed to file a lawsuit to allow a judge to decide who should keep the money. If the landlord didn't do that, you can file on your own. It's possible to sue for up to $5,000 in Small Claims Court. The landlord is allowed to keep at least part of the deposit for rent up until the end of the lease, so if the monthly rent was more than $500, you can file in Small Claims. You do not need a lawyer.
Here is more information on the process:
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You will be required to go to court to testify that you did not damage the property before leaving. However, you are free to hire an attorney if you like. A good place to find someone is www.martindale.com.
When someone files a lawsuit, they're required to serve notice on the other party. You should have gotten something if the case already existed. But you can call the local courthouse and ask the clerk if they see any cases with your name on them. If your letter said you were disputing the full $5,500, try the Superior Court first.
Yes. Your response is considered complete when it's mailed. Also, a tenant doesn't waive their right to the deposit if they don't reply within 15 days. You can still file a lawsuit.
Usually, small claims cases are resolved in mediation rather than at trial. Mediation is a more informal.
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