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Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 5264
Experience:  Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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My past apt. complex has charged me with "smoking fees" upon

Customer Question

My past apt. complex has charged me with "smoking fees" upon move out. Long story short, I refuse to pay $800+ for something l did not do. I want to take them to small claims court because they refuse to drop the charges. However, that was in NC, I have since moved to VA. Is it possible to still take them to court out of state & if so, how do I win my case? Thanks!
JA: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in? And just to clarify, have charges been officially filed?
Customer: It occurred in NC. I have not filed any charges yet. They have since reported my nonpayment to a debt collector.
JA: Have you contacted the manufacturer?
Customer: There is no manufacturer.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: the apt complex has zero evidence I smoked in the apt, they're going off an inspection performed 7 days after move out by a single maintenance man's judgement.. They did not persue less expensive cleaning options, instead they ozinated my unit for $800 and when asked for a copy of the bill, it did not have my correct address on it as the location where the work was performed. It is a multi-unit apt complex with active construction sites, with smoking workers, directly outside my windows For the enterim of my lease. They found no other discrepencies upon inspection. I have a spotless rental history and refuse to let judgemental office staff ruin my reputation.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only. Additionally, most people believe a phone call is the easiest and most efficient way to handle problems. Accordingly, you will receive an automatic phone call request. If you would like a phone call, please click “Accept” when prompted.

Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Thank you very much for your patience. This appears to be a classic breach of contract. A breach of contract just simply means that one party was obligated to perform and they have either have not performed or have said that they will not perform. Typically, the aggrieved party is entitled to be returned to the same position they were in before the breach. You could go to court, but there’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for advising of a breach of contract (click here). It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. If this doesn’t work, sadly, the only other option is to either go through an informal mediation or file a lawsuit in your local court.

As far as winning your case, you will just want to make sure that you explain that you did smoke and therefore you should not be charged the $800. It may be difficult to prove that youd id not smoke, but if you bring up the facts such as the fact that the workers on site were smoking directly outside your place, then that will go very far.

Also, although I provided an initial answer, it’s important that you are 100% satisfied. If you feel I have done so, please rate me 5 stars and let me know if you have any follow up questions. As a side note, you can also click here in the future to request me individually.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for the response. Do you no if it is possible to file the small claims court out of state? Do I have to be present? It sounds like they do this often, so mediation with this company is unreasonable. When I brought up any issues like how the cleaning bill was not even for my apt, they just said they'd have to change it and make sure it's my apt. That's even worse in my opinion, what do I know!
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

You're certainly welcome. Yes, it is possible to file a small claims court out of state and you will have to be present, unless there is some extreme and extenuating circumstance and the court allows you to appear by telephone or by video conference, if they have those capabilities.