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Legalease
Legalease, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16288
Experience:  13 years experience in RE Law, including LL/Tenant, contractor disputes, comm'l prop. issues
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When I moved out my landlord charged me over $1,700 charges

Customer Question

When I moved out my landlord charged me over $1,700 for fraudulent charges to my apartment. They said I trashed it. They also refused to refund the overpayment in rent that I gave them of $2,566. And they revealed very sensitive information about me, (bed bugs) to other tenants. Always Painting me in a very bad light. Can you please Help Me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Legalease replied 1 year ago.

Hello there --

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Unfortunately, we do not represent customers in an offline capacity. However, our function is to answer your questions and give you some direction that you can proceed in for the matter you are asking about. Under these circumstances, you should take the landlord to small claims court in the county where the property is located and your claim against the landlord is for failure to return a security deposit as required by CA Landlord and Tenant Law and breach of contract for failing to either apply the overpayment in rent to rent that you used while living there OR for not returning it to you after you left if the overpayment was not used while you were there. In addition to these two charges you can add a charge for Defamation of Character (slander) regarding the things that they are saying about you to other tenants. The court will award actual damages for what you lost and then some punitive damages if they find that the LL acted in bad faith. And, even if you are not able to prove definitively what they are saying about you (you would need witnesses to come to court to testify about what they have heard as a current tenant of the landlord and that might be difficult) -- you will at least put them on notice that if they continue to say untrue things about you to other tenants and, more importantly, to prospective landlords if you are trying to find another place to live, that you will pursue legal action against them for these matters (and even if you do not get a monetary award in small claims court for the Defamation of character, the court can issue a "cease and desist" order against them to force them to stop making any kind of comments against you in these matters).

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In CA, you can sue another person for up to $ 10,500 without using a lawyer and by completing and filing your own paperwork with the CA county court where the property is located. You then turn the paperwork into the clerk's office for civil business at the court and they will set a hearing date and notify the landlord of the coming court date. Then you should bring in as much evidence and any witnesses that you can on the hearing date.

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Here is a link to the CA courts website where you can get great instructions and forms for a small claims action.

http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm?filter=SC

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In addition to the website, there are employees of the county courts called "Facilitators" who actually work for the court and their job is to assist members of the public who need help with completing forms and representing themselves in court. Their services are free -- there used to be one in every county court in CA but with budget cuts it seems that there is one for every two or three counties -- but if you need assistance with the forms and prepping the case for the court hearing you should ask at the clerk's offices for the name and contact information of the person who is the Small Claims Court Facilitator for that court and they will give you the information -- it may take a week or so to get an appointment but the customers I have told to see facilitators have told me that they have had good experiences with the assistance they received for their small claims cases.

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I hope that all of this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions. If not, can you please press a positive rating in the ratings section so that I will be paid for my time assisting you today. I am paid nothing unless you press a positive rating before you leave so I do appreciate it!! Pressing a positive rating will not cost you any additional money -- it simply acts as the trigger to Just Answer to pay me for my time assisting you today. THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!

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MARY

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