My landlord did the walk-through a week before our commercial lease ended. We have an email from that day saying the facility looked great. After the lease ended, we asked for our security deposit, and we were given a list of reasons why we are not entitled to it, all of which fall under normal wear and tear. Other than removing our remaining possessions from the office, it remained unchanged after the walk-through. What next? If we have it in writing that he was happy with the office, can he then refuse to refund our deposit? Since then, our landlord has had his own contractors in and out of the building; how do we prove which "damages" are our fault and which happened after we vacated?
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
Assuming your security deposit is less than $10,000, you can sue your landlord in small claims court. Obviously, pictures and receipts and your email will be good evidence that you'll want to present. You can also hire an attorney to help bring litigation. In a commercial lease, you can only get your attorney fees as the prevailing party if your lease agreement allows for it. Whether or not you retain an attorney, it would likely be worthwhile to get a consultation to help evaluate your claims.
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. www.MaugerLaw.com
I agree with Mr. Mauger and encourage you to proceed to filing the complaint. It only costs a couple hundred dollars to file and serve the complaint on your landlord. These costs may also be recoverable under the lease. In Marion county you will file the complaint and then the landlord will be required to file an answer. If he does not then you win automatically. If he does file an answer you will be given a date for a mediation where you and the landlord will go in with a mediator and try to work it out. If that does not work you will then go before the small claims judge.
An attorney can review your lease and help you prep your case if needed. You probably don't need more than an hour of an attorneys time to help you make sure you are doing things correctly. About $200-$300 total. You can go right to the information desk at the Marion County courthouse and fill out the complaint and then they will direct you to where to go to have the Sheriff serve it on the landlord.
You can sue in small claims court or regular court (using an attorney; your lease probably has an attorney's fees clause, which can be a two edged sword). You might want to start by having your attorney send a demand letter to the landlord and see what results it brings. Unless there is a lot involved it might be worth while to strike a compromise.
This comment is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship and obviously is not confidential. You should contact an attorney in your area who can review with you all of the relevant facts and give you specific legal advice.