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Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 55452
Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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I own a large house and I usually take in roommates. I got a

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Hi! My name is Rebecca; I own a large house and I usually take in roommates. I got a new roommate maybe in March, I don't recall exactly. Anyway, everything was great- we didn't become friends per se but I felt that he was an upstanding guy and I trusted him absolutely. He was always struggling financially, and there was a time when he couldn't afford food, so I offered to give him his security deposit back ($700), and then he would pay it back when he could. Like an idiot, I didn't have him sign anything, although there are some text messages and stuff about it. In July, he paid me $500 (the rent is $700) and kept saying he would pay me back next week, then the week after, etc. Then our relationship changed dramatically. I'm guessing that he knew he couldn't pay me back, and the only way he could justify that in his mind was to make himself believe that I'm a horrible person who didn't deserve to be paid back. So anytime I asked him about the money, or tried to get him to sign something, he would just blow up and call me horrible names, etc. He didn't pay August rent, and I did succeed in getting him to agree to move out August 31. He moved out today (September 2) and I had to call the police because he became so furious that he threatened me physically (he didn't actually hurt me, though). He had sworn up and down he would pay me $900 ($200 rent for July and $700 for August) on September 2, but of course he didn't (his last words to me were "here are your keys, you crazy c---", he threw the keys at me, and then he drove off giving me the finger. Lol! He also trashed, and I mean absolutely trashed his room and bathroom, so I feel entitled to his security deposit as well for a total of $1,600 (of course we rarely get what we feel entitled to). I don't have much in the way of documentation, unfortunately. I did tape record one conversation where he said he was going to pay me back September 2. I don't know, what do you think? Thank you!
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Richard replied 11 months ago.

Hi Rebecca. My name is ***** ***** I will be helping you today! It will take me just a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!

Expert:  Richard replied 11 months ago.

I think not only are you entitled to recover the security deposit and rent, but if there are damages in excess of that amount, you can recover the damages as well. Even though you don't have a signed written agreement, the The lack of a written contract can be overcome by the concepts of promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and unjust enrichment. This situation arises when Person A relied upon the verbal agreement, Person A performed based on such reliance, and because Person B defaulted, such reliance is now to Person A's detriment. Where there is i) partial performance by Person A based upon the mutual promises, ii) Person A relied upon such promises to perform, iii) Person B's failure to perform would be to Person A's detriment, and iv) result in Person B being unjustly enriched, Person A can overcome the legal requirement that the agreement be in writing. Your situation would satisfy all the foregoing and the texts substantiate the prior monetary agreement between you.

If he won't pay you voluntarily, file suit against him. You can file any claim up to $7500 in small claims court with no need for a lawyer. Filing the suit will give you the collection options and leverage you need to collect the debt owed you. That's because once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if he doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on him for a debtor examination. That forces him to meet you in court again and answer questions under oath about his assets. After that information is obtained, you have the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property he owns to satisfy the judgment.

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