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2007-10-18 12:26:00

Questions and Answers: Landlords and Tenants in Court

Q.  One of our tenants moved out recently and left owing the owner of my company past due rent and damage to the apartment that exceeded his security deposit amount. The total owed is over $3,000. What should I do? How much can I ask for in small claims court?

You should send the former tenant a copy of the security deposit disposition accounting and demand that he pay the balance due immediately. Give him a deadline and if he fails to make payment, you may sue in small claims court. You can receive a judgment for up to $5,000 in small claims court in most cases. Make sure you document your case in a well-organized fashion and be prepared to present your case.

Q.  I recently went to small claims court and was told by the commissioner that there is no longer the ability to collect treble (three times) the amount of damages if a tenant willfully fails to pay rent. Is this true?

California did away with treble (three times) damages several years ago and instead allows for an additional $600 penalty for tenants who willfully or maliciously withhold their rental payments. The landlord would also be awarded court costs and, if the lease provides, attorney's fees.

(LegalEase is intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact the nearest office to discuss the facts of your particular situation. Kimball, Tirey & St. John makes no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, with regard to this information. Kimball, Tirey & St. John shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages in connection with, or arising out of, the use of any information herein contained.)

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