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Apartment manager is charging me over $2,000 in move-out fees. What are my chances in small claims court to get reimbursed?.

Salem, OR |

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

Attorney Answers 2


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.

Good luck.

Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not intended as legal advice applicable to your specific situation. No attorney/client relationship is created unless and until we have met and entered into a written representation agreement. Contact me at 541-250-0542 to discuss your matter further.

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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.

If you found this answer helpful, please click the "Mark as good answer" button, below. If you'd like to contact me regarding potentially representing you with regards to your legal matter, please click on my profile and give my office a call. My answer to your Avvo question, however, is informational only and is not intended to be legal advice, nor does it form the basis for any attorney-client relationship whatsoever, which can only be formed upon signing an Engagement Agreement and depositing a Retainer Fee into client trust. Further, I am only licensed in Oregon and laws vary from state to state. If you have an Oregon-related issue, feel free to contact me for a consultation. If you are outside of Oregon, please consult an attorney in your area for legal advice.

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