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We rented our home for 4 years due to a job opportunity in…

Customer Question
We rented our home...

We rented our home for 4 years due to a job opportunity in ND. The yearly lease ended and the tenants wouldn't leave but were still paying rent. We needed our home back and served them papers to leave within 30 days(DEC31,2017). They left JAN 3,2018 but did not pay Dec or Jan rent. We have had $22,000 of repairs since they left. We hired a lawyer to help us recoup back some of our money. We have been to court twice with everything being postponed and zero money judgements. I sent our lawyer 4 emails in 2 days many questions and conveyed to him that we are unhappy to not have received 1 penny by now. He blew up at me and told me to get another lawyer. What do I do now?

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a ND lawyer about this?

Our home is in Orange county NY. Our case is in NY. The job opportunity that forced us to rent our home was in ND but we have left ND currently

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

The tenants have voluntarily vacated after being served papers on Jan 3,2018. They did not pay Dec rent and we filed in court for rent, late fees, and attorney fees totaling $3,900. No judgement to date on that and now we have damages totaling 22,000. I had just found out that the limit in Landlord/Tenant court for damages is $3,000. Can we get a rent judgement for $3,900 and ask for an additional $3,000 in damages? Can we also ask for January's rent as we received the keys to our home on January 3rd instead of Jan 1st?

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Our lawyer who quit had gotten our last court date postponed so that he could send legal memorandums saying that the $22,000 in damages should be treated as additional rent and heard in Landlord/Tenant court. The Judge is expecting them by March 28th.We are upset because this is turning in to a whole gigantic court case with a lot of fighting to see which court our case should even be heard in. A lot more legal fees, etc. We would be happy with Dec rent, Jan rent, late fees, attorney fees and $3,000 towards our damages. The tenants had $2,500 in security. Is it feasible to get a quick and speedy judgement for 2 months rent, late fees, attorney fees, and $3,000 in damages?

Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Landlord-Tenant
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
The tenants were paying $2,250 a month for rent. The yearly lease we both signed ended on May 31st, 2017. Our lease says if they do not vacate at the end of the lease then the lease is still in effect and they are to pay month to month basis. They paid rent to us on a monthly basis until December. We wanted our house back so we served them with papers to vacate within 30 days and they were served by the end of Nov. They were suppose to vacate by Dec 31 but did not exit until January 3rd.
Answered in 4 hours by:
3/18/2018
Lawyer: LegalDan, Attorney replied 1 month ago
LegalDan
LegalDan, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 335
Experience: Partner at McCollum Hodgkinson, P.C.
Verified

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today - I am assuming you have documentation of all the repairs, lease agreement, etc to show the court.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Correct
Lawyer: LegalDan, Attorney replied 1 month ago

okay - great. What specifically can I help you with?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Currently our case has been postponed. We are in Landlord/Tenant court. The judge is waiting for a memorandum from our attorney citing other cases or reasons why the damages to our home should be considered "additional rent". The tenant's attorney gets to oppose that memorandum and then our attorney gets to submit a final memorandum. Then the judge will make a decision if she can even hear our case in Landlord/Tenant court. If she says she can hear our case then she'll set a date for trial and if not then we have to start back at square one in another court.The reason he was trying to get it classified as "additional rent" is because the limit for damages that the judge can rule on in this court is $3,000. There is no limit to the amount of judgement that the judge can rule on for rent. We have spent $22,000 to "fix" our home after the tenants left. We had filed for December's rent totaling $3,900($2,250-rent, $150-late fee, $1,500 attorney fees because our lease says we are due attorney fees if tenants do not pay the rent). We have not yet received a rent judgement yet.The tenants did not pay December's rent because they want their security back. So they got their money back by not paying the last months rent. They gave us back our home on January 3rd,2018. Here are my questions:
1) Aren't we owed January's rent in addition to December's because we received the keys on January 3rd and not January 1st? The tenants chose to have a party on New Years instead of "vacating the property". We were paying for hotels every night, had expenses from eating out every meal, put a deposit on a monthly rental that we were about to move in to because we didn't know that we were going to get our house back
2) If the answer to that question is yes then do we have to "serve notice on the tenants asking for rent and late fees". Do we have to change the filing in the court from $3,900 to the new amount. January's rent would be $2,250 and a late fee of $150. So the new amount owed to us would be $3,900 plus $2,400 totaling $6,300. Is that correct?
3) Would it be better for us to sue for rent and $3,000 in damages, get a speedy judgement and skip trying to get the rest of the money for our damages(our damages total $22,000). If you want to know why I say that. It's because I don't think we will win a judgement on all of the items we had to fix or replace that total to that $22,000. Example- The tenants broke all of our appliances. But our dishwasher was 20 years old so I don't think the judge will hold the tenants responsible or award us the cost of a new one for an appliance that was 20 years old. The same with the stove. The overhead microwave on the other hand was installed brand new with a warranty one month before the tenants moved in. Four and a half years later they gave it back to us broken. So would we win a judgement on replacement value for that appliance? Of course we have all receipts/new microwave before tenants and new microwave after tenants and warranty information.In other words we are trying to be realistic about what dollar amount we can legitimately win because if we "go for all the money" we are going to rack up at least $3,000 more in legal bills trying to win $22,000 of which we will be lucky to get a judgement of between $7,000 to $10,000 for our damages and that is if the judge will even hear our case in Landlord/Tenant court. If we can not be heard in this court then we have to start all over in small claims or other court.
What I am trying to figure out is can I get a speedy judgement in Landlord/Tenant court for:
1)December's rent plus a late fee?($2,400)
2)January's rent plus a late fee? ($2,400)
3)Attorney fees?($1,500)
4) Damages to my home by the tenants? ($3,000-which is the limit that Landlord/Tenant court can rule onWe are fighting with our lawyer because he is getting us in to all these memorandums and more appearances to fight for our $22,000 but charging us every step of the way adding up to thousands of legal bills
Lawyer: LegalDan, Attorney replied 1 month ago

Thank you for all the information - Unfortunately there are no "speedy" results and even with a judgment you might not be able to get your money right away. Your main problem with this dispute seems to be your attorney and charging an hourly fee. Generally speaking a civil attorney in this type of issue would charge a contingency fee so it incentives him to fight for you for the max dollar amount. But to your specific questions - 1. Yes you can claim January's rent and late fees in your pleading. You did not get the keys on time and the lease specifically states the penalty. 2. You will have to amend your pleading to the new dollar amount but the judge should/would allow that to be done in court - your attorney does not need to waste time drafting a new pleading. 3. If you want to accept less you can always amend your pleading to reflect the lower dollar amount. The judge will not award the replacement value of appliances, but the cost of the appliance that broke.

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Lawyer: LegalDan, Attorney replied 1 month ago

If you want to go the 1)December's rent plus a late fee($2,400) 2)January's rent plus a late fee ($2,400)
3)Attorney fees ($1,500) 4) $3,000 limit - route - I would let the court know that you would be willing to enter into a binding mediation and have the dispute settled that way. That would be the absolute quickest way to a resolution. Also, you could fire your attorney and complete that yourself as the court will appoint a mediator.

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Lawyer: LegalDan, Attorney replied 1 month ago

I hope I was able to answer your question and give you the next steps you will need to take - can you please rate my answer with 5 stars

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LegalDan
LegalDan, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 335
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Experience: Partner at McCollum Hodgkinson, P.C.

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