Miami Beach, FL asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Should I still sue my landlord in small claims court?

I filled a claim in small claims court because my landlord did not send me the refund of my security deposit within the 21 days required by California state law. They finally sent over the refund (after 51 days) but not in the full amount and they did not give me the reasoning for the deductions within those 21 days. In your opinion, is it worth it to still take them to small claims court for the refund of the full amount and the possibility of punitive damages?

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1 Lawyer Answer
John T. Kontrabecki
John T. Kontrabecki
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You have already completed the hard part, which is filing the suit and serving your landlord. At this point, all that is left is the hearing. Judges are sympathetic to tenants who have been stiffed by their landlord in the way you describe.

I recommend you attend the hearing, explain to the judge what happened, demand the balance of the money owed, and ask for damages for the wasted time and inconvenience of having to pursue this against your landlord. Your relationship with your landlord is already burned. You are better off getting a judgment against him because he may take further retaliatory action against you.

More likely than not, they will pay you the balance owed before the hearing in order to avoid going to court.

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