Real Estate Law
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Were you charged or did you have any other expenses associated with this misrepresentation that she used a lawyer?
Would you have acted differently had you known that she did not use a lawyer to draft the lease?
Did you tell her this? That is, did she know that you would not have signed if she did not use a lawyer?
Just because she didn't use a lawyer does not mean that the lease was invalid. There's absolutely no requirement that a lawyer be used to draft a lease or any other contract. A lease downloaded from the internet can be (and often are) valid and binding, no question about it. Most likely the lease that you signed WAS binding.
now, if there was a misrepresentation that they used a lawyer, and this misrepresentation was made with the intent that you rely upon it, with knowledge that you would have acted differently had you not relied upon it, then that could be actionable if you can show harm as a result of that.
Yes, you can absolutely sue her. you can sue her for the unreturned security deposit if she did not give you a written statement about what was being withheld within 30 days, as well as additional damages for not returning that to you.
You can also sue for "loss of enjoyment" for the defects that she knew about but did not rectify.
In short, this is the difference between what you actually paid and what the rent was worth in light of the defects that went unremedied.
You can sue under the Texas security deposit law (which provides for treble damages and attorney’s fees for bad faith retention of the deposit, and makes failure to provide an itemization of damages within thirty days of demand a prima facie case of bad faith.)
Send a demand letter demanding payment within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against him, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made a demand for the unpaid security deposit.
Do a search on the web for your county and "small claims court." You should find either a website or phone number to the small claims clerk. Ask them what you need to do to bring such a lawsuit. The small claims clerk will give you guidance on how to file this suit and how to get the other party served with notice. You will receive a hearing date, at which you should present your evidence and ask for a judgment for the amount that you should be paid (including double the amount of the deposit for bad faith retention of that amount; hence "treble" damages (1x for the deposit itself, 2x for bad faith retention).
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