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Old 02-06-2014, 10:50 AM
 
9 posts, read 36,955 times
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Hi
Need help/advice on my situation below, thanks in advance.
Me and my wife rented a condo in July 2013 from a landlord through an lease agent. I believe we had an oral agreement for 1 year.
In Nov 2013, we bought a house and notified landlord and agent on Nov 27 to inform them we would be moving out on 12/31/2013. Also we spoke with the agent about moving out in late Nov and he asked us to pay last month rent and will refund our deposit after we moved out.
Now, over a month after we've moved out, we still haven't rec'd any refund. Also, landlord and his agents are not answering our calls.
We went back to our files and found the original "lease agreement" and noticed it was simply a deposit confirmation letter indicating only the lease amount paid, monthly rent, and lease term from 7/1/13 - 7/1/13. But the tricky part is, the one page document was only signed by the landlord/agent (couldn't read their signiture) but not by us.
We sent a deposit refund demand letter to the lease agent last week. This morning, we've rec'd a package from lease agent included a full set of lease agreement drafted by the agent without any signiture. And also included was a demand for a payment of $5,000+ for unpaid rent for terminating lease early.
We are thinking about taking the landlord and agent to small claim court on the following ground:
1. by california state civil code, we did not recive deposit refund or any breakdown of expeses/damage owed to the landlrd. Thus, we could sue them to get the deposit back and up to twice the amount to cover our legal costs.
2. They could counter sue us for terminating lease early. We did not sign any lease agreement back when the lease started, but we did have oral confirmation for 1 year lease. By Statue of Fraud, any lease contact over one year should be in writing, and that makes the oral agreement void. (example: oral agreemnt states lease term was from 7/1/2013 - 7/1/2014, but was agreed on 6/15/2013 in their office. Thus, making this contact for over 1 year period.) Also, we have notified lease agent we'd be moving out back in Nov 2013 and he agreed to refund our deposit and that's how he made us to pay last month rent. He did not mention anything about withholding our depsoit or a $5000 penalty for ending lease early.

Need your kind advice regarding what's the chance of us winning both cases.
Thanks again for your help and let me know if you need any other information i might have missed.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:53 AM
 
35,102 posts, read 47,959,985 times
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Contact a renter/landlord Attorney immediately and consult with them.
Find out if you have any legal recourse and provide the attorney with the current documentation you have.

More than likely no one here will be able to guide you better than an Attorney who specializes in these type of issues.
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Old 02-06-2014, 10:58 AM
 
9 posts, read 36,955 times
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I thought we have to represent ourselves at small claim court?
Any recommendation on local tenant attorney in Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley?
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:01 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,669 posts, read 66,559,256 times
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From first hand experience I can tell you from the court's standpoint that if not all the involved parties*signed a lease agreement there is no lease agreement and you were on a month to month. Plus they're further on the hook by not returning to you your security deposit less any documented itemized deductions in the time proscribed in state law.

I wouldn't even respond to them - just file your claim and speak to an attorney if in any doubt.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:02 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,669 posts, read 66,559,256 times
Reputation: 26668
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianmeow View Post
I thought we have to represent ourselves at small claim court?
Any recommendation on local tenant attorney in Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley?
That's correct. But if you want to find an attorney to firm up your understanding, you might be better off posting for that information in the state forum. Good luck.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:07 AM
 
Location: NJ
17,578 posts, read 44,246,866 times
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Attorney time.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:08 AM
 
9 posts, read 36,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
From first hand experience I can tell you from the court's standpoint that if not all the involved parties*signed a lease agreement there is no lease agreement and you were on a month to month. Plus they're further on the hook by not returning to you your security deposit less any documented itemized deductions in the time proscribed in state law.

I wouldn't even respond to them - just file your claim and speak to an attorney if in any doubt.
Thank you, I've been doing a lot of reading online lately. But might still need an attorney to help since the amount now is $5000+ instead of just $1200 in deposit.
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Old 02-06-2014, 11:10 AM
 
9 posts, read 36,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manderly6 View Post
Attorney time.
Just wondering what's the cost related to this kind of case?
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:35 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,791 posts, read 46,370,131 times
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A demand letter from a leasing agent does not equal a law suit. I don't see how they have any grounds to sue for $5000 damages. Even if you did signed a 1 year lease, they are required by state law to try and find another tenant to mitigate the lose from your leaving early. The remainder of the lease does not become immediately due. It looks to me like their demand letter is nothing more then an intimidation tactic to get you to drop your claim on the deposit. I would continue to pursue that claim in small claims court.

You can always consult with a lawyer and still represent yourself in small claims court. But I see no need for a lawyer at this point.

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/l...-deposit.shtml
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:54 PM
 
9 posts, read 36,955 times
Reputation: 10
Updates:
My wife found out she did sign a leasae agreement for one year. (was included in the package they sent this morning)
She went to the condo and saw a lady was moving into that condo this morning, and that lady was nice enough to write us a statement indicating her contract date starts on 2/1/2014.
At this point, their tactic worked, we are thinking about dropping the claim for the whole deposit amount to avoid any further complications.
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