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I have been sued in a small claims civil suit-for allegations of rent not being paid in the months of Jan., July, & Aug. of 2010

New York, NY |

Keep in mind, rent was $1,996.00 per month. Due to the landlord not knowing my current address I received a notice of judgement, however I'll be reopening this case. The total judgement is listed at $4,517.50--which clearly does not add up to the claimant's allegations.

My question is, should I mention the fact that the claimant's allegations don't even corroborate to the total judgement? I'm thinking it could add to my risk of potentially having to pay more(1,996 x 3) if the court does not rule in my favor.

For context, the landlord never returned my $3,000 security deposit and this hasn't been promulgated to the court, I have her bank deposit slip receipts for the months she has alleged were unpaid, and I have public documents that show units below $2k--the crux of her argument.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

Were you properly served with the Complaint? If you were properly served and if a judgment was obtained against you, then you might not be able to reopen the case. Moreover, the judgment amount could include items such as attorneys fees.

Case are time sensitive. And there are limited reasons a court will allow a case to be re-opened or a judgment to be set aside. If you were not properly served and a judgment was entered against you, then you will have to re-open the case under grounds of fraud.

You really should consult a local attorney -- even for an hour's time, it would be worth it so that you are ensured that you are following the correct procedural rules applicable to your situation -- especially if the judgment were improperly entered against you in the first place.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.

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Asker

Posted

No, I was never served with a complaint. She sent it to a location that I did not live at, and called me after the court date took place. The eyebrow raising aspect to the judgement amount was that it was less than her allegations--which was rent not being paid for 3 months at a rate of $1,996 per month. The judgement amount of roughly $4,500 just doesn't make sense, but I'm dubious about even bring that up because in the unlikely case that I lose I don't want to have to pay roughly $6,000 vs the current amount.

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

You need to vacate the default judgment before you do anything else. See Mr. Smollens answer above.

Posted

Were you served? Did you answer? How do you have the other person' s bank records? You will likely be ordered to pay what you owe plus 9 percent interest.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and have been doing criminal defense work for over 16 years. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012 and 2013. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. Martindale-Hubbell has given me its highest rating - AV Preeminent - in the areas of Criminal Law, Personal Injury, and Litigation. According to Martindale-Hubbell”AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment - a testament to the fact that a lawyer's peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence." Fewer than 8% of attorneys achieve an AV Preeminent rating. I also have the highest ranking – “superb” – on Avvo. The above answer, and any follow up comments or emails is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.

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Asker

Posted

No, I was never served. Found out about it after the notice of judgement was deliberated. The way in which I paid rent was by using her personal bank account deposit tickets. I have no problems paying what I owe, but the issue is I owe nothing and have more proof than she does to verify my case. Furthermore, the allegations she has made do not correlate to the amount the notice of judgement states--the judgement amount is substantially lower. Which is why I was wondering if I should even bring that argument forth, that her allegations show how misinformed and unorganized she is.

Posted

Dear New York Tenant:

You should follow the procedure for vacating a default judgment in the Small Claims Court:

http://courts.state.ny.us/COURTS/nyc/smallclaims/vacatingjudgment.shtml

If you have a claim against the plaintiff landlord, that is a counterclaim, and you are allowed to prosecute a counterclaim along with the landlord's main claim, as long as you are allowed to vacate the judgment, and properly file the counterclaim.

http://courts.state.ny.us/COURTS/nyc/smallclaims/counterclaims.shtml

So. The focus of your energy is vacating the judgment, seeking the right to interpose an answer where you succinctly dispute the plaintiff's claims, and a counterclaim for the security deposit.

Good luck.

The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.

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Steven Warren Smollens

Steven Warren Smollens

Posted

Small Claims Court jurisdiction is up to $5000.00. So the landlord could not receive a judgment in excess of $5000. What may have transpired in her proof before the arbitrator was an admission that she retained the security deposit. If so, the arbitrator may have considered the security as a partial set-off to the near $6000 claim.

Posted

Based on the facts that you have given you most likely need an attorney. First you need to vacate the default judgment and get the case reopened and back on the court's calendar. With regard to your comment on the security deposit, security is security and rent is rent. You cannot use your security to satisfy rent arrears. If the landlord never returned your security and you have duly asked for it and there was no damage to justify the landlord keeping it, you can put in a counterclaim for the return of your security. As for having to pay more than the current judgment, the statutory maximum in small claims is 5,000.

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