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My ex-roommate made kitchen really dirty and left . Can I file a suit in small-claims court?

Arlington, VA |

ex-roommate and I both are renters. He cooks everyday while I never cook. I eat out normally. My friends can testify on that.
When ex-roommate decided to leave, I asked him to clean the disgusting grease on the wall and he verbally agreed. (We did not sign any thing on this. just by oral promise) He did nothing when leaving. I am really uncomfortable. Can I fill a suit against him, asking him to pay the cleaning fee?

He left after living here for 4 years and I decided to stay here. When he left, I found new roommate to renew the lease together. Therefore, there was no cleaning fee charged by the landlord. But, the ex-roommate cooked on a daily basis while I ate out in the past. He orally agreed to clean those grease but he did not. Do you think I can file a lawsuit? What evidence do I have to bring? Thanks.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Technically speaking, you have a legitimate complaint and may have an oral contract which your roommate breached.

Practically speaking, however, the time and effort spent in filing a small claims action, serving the defendant, and in going to court will be more of an effort than what the case is worth. If I were you, as angry as I would be, I'd chalk it up to a lesson learned through experience and move on.

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.

Asker

Posted

Hi, Brandy. Thanks for your quick reply. But I really want to try this time. Do you have advice on how to prepare the suit, what evidence to collect?

Brandy Ann Peeples

Brandy Ann Peeples

Posted

Keep in mind, I'm not licensed to practice in Virginia and this is for information purposes only. You might want to consult an attorney local in your area for more specific advice. The evidence you will need will be your testimony versus your roommate's to indicate you had a contract wherein your roommate agreed to clean the kitchen area. It will be up to a judge to decide which person is believable. You'll also need a receipt/invoice from whichever cleaning company you hired to perform the job. The point is, you have to quantify exactly how much it cost to clean the place. You can't do it yourself and make up a number to attribute to the cost. In small claims, the rules of evidence aren't strictly followed but you do need to have some kind of reliable dollar amount for the cleaning cost. In filing a suit, you'll have to prepare a complaint. In small claims, courts usually have forms you fill out indicating the type of claim you have and a space where you can write out the facts of your case. In your case, it seems you had a contract which was breached by your roommate resulting in your having to pay a cleaning fee. Once the complaint is filed (you'll incur a filing fee), the court will issue a summons and then you can either have a private process server or your local sheriff serve the defendant (which will also cost you $$$).

Posted

Ms. Peeples is right. If you want to pursue court action this link takes you to the small claims court procedures in VA http://www.courts.state.va.us/resources/small_claims_court_procedures.pdf

-Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org Mike@jslaw.org This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.

Posted

Unclear what you mean by 'left'. Did he terminate early? Breach contract? Do you have evidence if this agreement? Can you show that absent the grease you would not have had a cleaning fee? Can you apportion the proper percentage of the overall cleaning fee to HIS cooking? Who set the cleaning fee and who determined it had to be a professional cleaner?
My two cents, not worth the trouble,its not clear that you even have an arguable case.

READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

Asker

Posted

He left after living here for 4 years and I remained. When he left, I found new roommate to renew the lease together. Therefore, there is no cleaning fee charged by the landlord. But, the ex-roommate cooked on a daily basis while I eat out in the past. He orally agreed to clean those grease but he did not. Do you think I can file a lawsuit? What evidence do I have to bring? Thanks.