I was charged $200 in damages to the walls due to a "smoke smell". I never smoked inside, but I am a smoker and admitted that it did smell like smoke. Then I was charged $430 to paint the walls. In my mind, it's outrageous because my studio apartment was only 425 square feet. I was also charged $684 to clean, then replace the carpet...again...425 square feet. I was also charged $400 for replacement of a mattress (single) that was used in the murphy bed.
These are the costs that I would dispute if I file a small claim. They shouldn't have charged me to clean things that are going to end up being replaced. The costs are accurate, however, because I asked for receipts of all the work orders. In general, I feel like most of the damages were normal wear and tear after 2 years living there. HELP
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Seems like you know what the issues to discuss at trial to be, that you need to file in small claims, and that there's a chance that depending on whose side of the facts the court believes, you might not win. I don't see any questions here. So it looks like you're ready for small claims trial.
If you decided to go into Circuit Court instead (which you can do because your claim is over $750) the prevailing party will be awarded attorney fees. It might be worth consulting with an attorney to get an opinion as to whether the facts you can present make it worthwhile to hire an attorney to litigate or negotiate your claims.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
Unfortunately, you're likely to have a somewhat difficult time in bringing a claim successfully. If you're able to prove that the damages that were recouped against your deposit were merely wear and tear, you're able to recover double what was wrongfully withheld. However, what is and what isn't "wear and tear" is never easy to identify.
To complicate matters further, these issues can support an award of attorneys fees to the prevailing party, so if you sued in small claims court the other side is likely to simply retain and attorney and get the case moved to state circuit (regular) court. Thus, you'd then be faced with getting your own attorney and potentially having to pay their attorney if you ultimately lost, as well.
That's not to discourage you to say that you don't have a claim, of course, but you should consult with a local tenants' attorney in your area to evaluate your case and advise you as to the potential costs and benefits of proceeding.
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