Depending on where you live, you could call the small claims court quite differently. Different names are „Magistrate Court,” „Pro Se Court” or „Justice of the Peace Court.” Before going to court, you should familiarize yourself with the terms. The persons or entities that file a complaint are complainants, while the persons or entities that are at the end of the complaint are defendants. Perhaps the owner has deducted the deposit for spurious reasons or the necessary documentation of the deductions appears suspicious; or perhaps the owner is not responding to a request for the return of the deposit. The Small Claims Court offers a place where the tenant can get his deposit back and gives a significant advantage to the tenant: the lessor cannot be represented by a lawyer. No one wants to take a case to court, but if a decision is necessary, then small claims are the way forward. The $10,000 limit covers most claims against the owner; and the procedure is accessible because the legal costs are low and neither the plaintiff nor the defendant can be represented by counsel. The ground is flattened. The case will be recorded in the minutes, so if the tenant tries to sue you in the future, you will have proof that the court has ruled in your favour. It could also delete your name if the tenant makes false claims against you.
The SUPREME Court of LA offers online a host of details ranging from filing forms to forfeiture of damages on the portal for minor claims. The court also provides a detailed online guide, Small Claims Court Guide to Its Practical Use. Watch an explanatory video. Also take a look at the useful explanation of the small claim procedure. Here we present an overview of the process as well as legal resources for tenants. But just because the law says you have the right to go to the court of small claims doesn`t mean it`s the best for any situation. A common problem for many tenants is the risk of a landlord`s counter-action. For example, if you left your unit but did not document the condition in which you left it, many homeowners will seek damages from the unit, which are difficult to refute in the absence of documentation. Even if you think the deposit is refunded to you, if an owner can make a credible case that your damages are identical to the unit or exceed the amount of the deposit, you risk losing the lawsuit. Losing in small claims can have a negative impact on your credit and therefore your ability to search for the future apartment. For this reason, it is very important that tenants weigh the evidence they have in their favour or against them. For more information, see Tips for Customers.
Gather the evidence. The preparation of the trial involves messing up all available evidence and presenting the court with a coherent presentation of the events. The chronology here is important because it will document for the court all cases of contact with the owner. The more consistently the requirement can be presented and supported, the greater the chance of being imposed in court. That is what lawyers do, of course, but in small claims, it is up to the plaintiff herself. The court provides a useful checklist. Some states allow you to have a lawyer in small lawsuits, but in most cases you have to represent yourself. This is another aspect of the procedure for small claims that you need to consider before filing a file. Each state has a cap on how much you can sue for small claims. Before you move forward, make sure your application meets your state`s requirements.
If your application exceeds the court limit, you must bring a civil action in a normal civil court. If writing does not solve the problem, and before filing a claim in case of small claims, consider getting a mediator.