When our tenants vacated our rental property the damages totaled $10k. After sending them an itemized list of the damages, receipts, and estimates from local contractors, we received a response via their attorney stating that the damages were normal wear and tear (they did not request their deposit).
Would it be advisable to hire an attorney for small claims due to the fact that they have one? I’m fairly certain their attorney is their boss, but I don’t want to be at a disadvantage here.
We do have ample pictures and can provide witness statements for proof of damages.
If there was $10k in true damages that sounds like an insurance claim. Check your insurance coverage and see if this falls under it. Pursuing them is possible but may be difficult. How much are you willing to spend or lose to hopefully recoupe some of the loss.
In most jurisdictions attorneys are not allowed in small claims court cases. Sometimes the other party will move to have it transferred out of small claims court, so they can use an attorney.
File the small claims case and see what happens.
There's a good chance they are just trying to scare you away by using an attorney. You typically represent yourself in Small Claims court and the cases are usually pretty simple if you have documentation.
Do you have pictures of before and after? A move-in checklist or inspection sheet signed by you and the tenant? If you have it, you have a very good chance of winning. It's pretty rare that tenants document anything because they're just focused on moving in so it increases the odds of you winning.
Thank you for the responses.
I do have before and after photos. They did not fill out anything in the initial inspection list.
The damages did total 10k before the applied security deposit. Honestly, I didn’t even list all the damages.
That’s good to know about the attorney. I was surprised they went as far to use their boss, given the absolutely revolting conditions they left the house in. One would think having their employer seeing photos of that nature might impact how they are viewed by the company. /shrug
I have dealt with this over the years.. insurance may or may not cover this.. usually they just say thats what tenants do.
but I had a bad one that was like 40k in damages and they stepped up.. and they went after the tenant criminally.
Not sure how but thats what they told me they were going to do..
Small claims in the areas i work attorneies are not allowed. just you and the defendant judge judy style.
There may be a maximum limit in small claims court. In FL it is $5,000. Anything over that in FL is not classified as a small claim.
If you have none hang around at court. There are lawyers willing to help you for pay. Some know the judges as they are in and out constantly. They hang around outside the court the way realtors hang around at open houses.
It may help if you list where you are located in your bio so you can receive more accurate answers to your question