My landlord kept my $1500 deposit and is suing me for an additional $5000+ dollars for a 700 sq ft unit I lived in for 1 year. When my lease ended I moved out. I cleaned the entire house, including all appliances(fridge, oven, sink etc., scrubbed/dusted the walls and floors and left absolutely zero trash. She is trying to charge me a $750 cleaning fee, $250 fridge replacement(old fridge), $600 floor replacement(dents were already there when I moved in), $122 outlet cover replacement(no damage), $300 trash haul(no trash was left), $280 unpaid utilities(I paid off and shut off all utilities before moving), and many, many other “charges” for damage that didn’t exist when I left. She’s sued 4 other tenants before for similar “damage”. Should I get a lawyer? I have always gotten my deposit back from past landlords so this is shocking! How can I defend myself? What are my options?
You don't say whether you are being sued in small claims court or circuit court. If in small claims, you may want to demand a jury trial as your answer which will force the case out of small claims and make her file in circuit court or drop the case. Yes, you should IMMEDIATELY review everything with a local landlord-tenant attorney. IF they believe you have a strong case, they might even take your case on a contingency meaning you wouldn't have to pay them anything beyond possibly an initial interview fee for their time. Rather they would rely upon prevailing and collecting from your landlord. If you can prove that you not only do not owe the additional amounts billed but also you should have gotten some or all of your deposit refunded, you will be entitled to recover twice the amount not properly returned to you, along with your court costs and attorney's fees. But the place to start is to have a good, local, landlord-tenant attorney evaluate your case and go from there.
Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal advice for any specific situation and nothing herein is intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Every case is very "fact-specific" and persons wishing legal advice on a specific matter should contact me or another attorney for an appointment to review their particular circumstances and to create a lawyer-client relationship.
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