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Will a promise to pay via text message hold up in small claims court?

Austin, TX |

My roommate's brother took over my lease. He agreed to buy me out of my 1/2 of the deposit ($162.50), which he will receive upon moving out. When I moved out, he claimed never to have agreed to that and refused to pay me. However, earlier in the day, we had this conversation via text messages:

Me: I need 162.50 for the deposit please. Bring a check.
Him: I don't use checks, but I carry cash :/
Me: That's fine. It's 162. I'm leaving at 9.
Him: What time will you be back after that? I have to pick up Amber from the airport, and then I could come over

The fact that he didn't question my first text is a clear indication that he knew what I was talking about and had previously agreed to pay, but I'm worried that the texts are vague. By the way, I left the apartment in perfect condition.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. I would not want to rely on the text messages. You could certainly take him to court, or threaten to do so. But that will definitely have an impact on your roommate and perhaps your relationship with her/him.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


  2. In this rough economic times $1162 in your pocket is better than in the person who took over your lease. Nonetheless, unless filing fees in TX are cheaper than in NJ, besides the aggravation, and loss of time you will experience going to court, you will pay a chunk of that $162 to file the claim in small claims court.

    You might write the landlord and explain that since paid the deposit, and have not been reimbursed, when he vacates, you are entitled o the $162.

    As my father used to say when I would complain: "Life is not always fair." Move on.

    Good luck!

    The foregoing is not intended to be legal advice upon which you may rely as I have not been retained for this purpose.

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