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Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 46
Experience:  Landlord-Tenant Law Expert
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URGENT: TOMORROW MORNING, Thursday 07January2016, I HAVE A

Customer Question

I'm the plaintiff. I had a tenant for 14 months to whom I rented a room in my private home where I was also living. I labeled it as a home-sharing because he was allowed the run of the house, including full kitchen privileges.
In small claims court the judge ruled that "you did not prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt" (hey, chicklet--this is civil not criminal court!), and asked if my furniture was "used", implying that I'd bought junk rental furniture whereas the rental room was furnished with my expensive furniture (including a chandelier, museum-quality paintings and a hand-loomed Persian carpet). Furniture becomes used the minute you bring it home. What was her definition of "used"? She ruled I owed him $900.00 return of security deposit but ruled against the $5k in attorney's fees he was demanding.
On January 05th, 2 days before tomorrow morning's appeals court trial, I went to see his attorney. I asked nicely if I could please just have the $150 damage he did to my Venetian blinds, the $650 repair bill for the antique display case glass he smacked his backpack into, and the money to repair my parquet floor he'd burned--which would amount to about a thousand dollars.
The attorney answered that his client would not settle and that he, the attorney, would go after everything I had. I told him I didn't own anything. He said "What about your Corvette?" (I have a 16-year-old Corvette. Not the car in my collision, which was a total loss. It took me 3 years to save up for the down payment on this car and it's not yet paid for.) I asked "How am I going to get around?" I didn't explain that some of the roundtrips by public transportation were 5 hours on 6 busses as opposed to the 40 minutes it would take by car and that I'm in around-the-clock pain and can't stand for more than a couple of minutes.) His answer: "That's your problem."
He was in the military as an R.N. and he needed a place until his wife, in a Southern state, could find a job in Montgomery County and move up here with their 3 kids. I'm disabled (hopefully temporarily for my several injuries but I did sustain permanent spinal and balance damage) from an auto collision in which the at-fault driver ran a red light and crashed into my standing car at about 45 miles per hour. I'm still under treatment three and a half years later and haven't yet been able to resume working. I'm 68 years old. He's about 37.
I treated him very kindly, as if he were my son. E.g., of many kindnesses I performed for him, I saved him several hundred dollars taking him to and picking him up from the airport whenever he traveled; I picked him up from the mechanic when he dropped his car off for repair; personally took him grocery shopping and to work in the beginning plus wrote out step-by-step transportation directions, etc., etc.
He skipped out on the last month's rent (leaving the security deposit which is not interchangeable with rent), gave neither verbal nor written notice, never signed the formal lease I gave him, forgot he left his bicycle in my garden storage building and broke into it 3 days after he absconded, put his crockpot on my parquet floor in his bedroom to cook and damaged my floor, negligently smashed his backpack into my living room's antique display case and broke a glass pane, etc. The damage he caused was $10k and I filed suit in District Court but because I was told I'd have to pay for expert witnesses (my repair estimates and bills were not enough I was told) which I couldn't afford, I re-filed for $5k in damages in small claims court.
Defendant filed a cross-complaint. (He and his wife make good, full-time salaries ergo he could afford to retain an AV-rated attorney whose firm owns their own building and has marble floors, etc. versus puny little me. Legal Aid does not represent landlords. I understand why, because most of them are wealthy business people, some of whom own several commercial buildings or several individual rentals.) In the cross-complaint he wanted his $5k attorney's fees plus return of his $900 security deposit. I had in a timely fashion told him in writing I was retaining the deposit plus detailed my damage demands. In the cross-complaint he lied that my home was messy (I brought to court photos of the Hurricane Katrina look he'd turned the beautiful rental room (had chandelier, museum-quality paintings, etc.)
I'm a military widow so I trusted him as he's in the military. Secondly I trusted him because he was a nurse. Mistakenly I thought the military and medical factors would guarantee good character. He turned out to be dishonest but I'm afraid it's irrelevant
[Cont'd in next email)
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.


What's your question, exactly?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't want the shame on record of my having been counter-sued. I wouldn't mind if I really had done something wrong but I mind very much under the circumstances.

What can I do to avoid paying the $900 (I'm living on $976.00 military widow's pension a month; my disability goes for my mortgage) that the defendant was awarded?

How can I get at least $1000 of the $5k in damages paid to me?

How can I--as a last resort--drag this thing out? What happens if I don't show up tomorrow?

Bot***** *****ne: what can I possible do to win tomorrow morning?