My landlord broke many laws in CCC 1950.5 regarding the the return of my security deposit. No pre-moveout inspection was offered, when I asked for one in email 3 separate times he refused. I was never mailed an itemized statement of accounting and my landlord decided to keep the entire security deposit, when I asked what for in e-mail they gave many different conflicting answers. 3 days before the lease was over he told me that I would receive my full security deposit back, 1 day after the lease was over he said he would be keeping all of it.
There is an attorneys fee provision in the lease, if I hire a lawyer to take this case to superior court instead of small claims would it still be possible to have the bad faith penalty awarded? Is the bad faith penalty only awarded in small claims?
Assuming the bad faith award can be awarded in Superior Court, would it be more likely to be awarded if my lawyer presented a case for it in Superior Court? Or is it more likely to be awarded to an individual going through small claims? Any advice would be much appreciated, thank you.
Employment / Labor Attorney
Teh bad faith penalties may be awarded by either court. If you pursue the action in Small Claims court, you can retain an attorney to assist you in preparing the case, and collect those attorneys fees. The attorney can't represent you at the Small Claims Court trial.
Contracts / Agreements Lawyer
It looks like the landlord didn't follow on statute regarding your security deposit.
Most courts do not favor this. You have a good case to ask for twice your security deposit, plus attorney's fees and costs. You can recover this in any court, up to the jurisdiction of that court. In CA, the small claims limits against individuals was recently raised to $10,000. It is still $5,000 against corporations, etc.
Even though an attorney cannot represent you in small claims, most lease agreements provide for attorney's fees. I think $750 would be reasonable if that attorney substantially assists you in your case.
This is general legal advice intended for informational purposes only and does not create and attorney/client relationship. If you wish further advice, please contact an attorney of your own choosing or you may contact me for further advice and make other arrangements including retaining my services.