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  1. #1
    woman934 is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy Suing a landlord now he wants to settle out of court

    What is the name of your state? Texas

    Our landlord did not return our deposit for over six months, despite repeated phone calls and e-mails from us. He had many excuses but mostly flat out ignored our requests. We finally sent a letter demanding our deposit in May and stated we would file in small claims court if we did not hear from him. We called him twice after he received our certified letter and still no deposot. So in June I filed in small claims court. Two weeks after we filed we received a check for half the amount of our deposit - the deductions were to service the air conditioner in his rental house (which was working fine when we left). I know that according to Texas property code that if he held our deposit in bad faith that he cannot deduct ANY amount from our deposit. We did not cash the check and he now knows we've filed. So now he wants to talk about settling out of court.

    Our deposit was $1400. And we're suing for $4,398. Which is three times the deposit + $100 +$98 court costs. Texas property Code Section 92.109

    Should we try to settle out of court? Or do you think our case is strong enough to get our full asking amount in court? My husband wants to settle but I know our landlord's idea of settling will only be our original deposit amount. Please advise!!!!
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Cut the amount you're asking for in half and present it as your final offer. If he doesn't accept that, go to court.
    But, are you SURE the LL didn't follow the rules? And, can you PROVE that?
  3. #3
    woman934 is offline Junior Member
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    replying to questions

    The $100 isbased on the Texas Property Code Section 92.109:
    " 92.109. LIABILITY OF LANDLORD. (a) A landlord who in
    bad faith retains a security deposit in violation of this
    subchapter is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three
    times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld, and the
    tenant's reasonable attorney's fees in a suit to recover the
    deposit."
    and then there is this one:
    " 92.103. OBLIGATION TO REFUND. (a) Except as provided
    by Section 92.107, the landlord shall refund a security deposit to
    the tenant on or before the 30th day after the date the tenant
    surrenders the premises."

    This is what makes me believe we have a strong case. Are there any holes you can see where we might be misinterpreting?
  4. #4
    BL
    BL is online now Senior Member
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    First , he would have to prove it was your fault the A/C needed servicing .

    From what you have sited , it really doesn't matter , because he was suppose to return any remaining deposit in a timely manner .

    As was mentioned , make an offer for 1/2 what you're are seeking .

    You want your full deposit, and court cost at least paid to you .

    Get any settlement agreement in writing ,signed and dated .

    He may have consulted an attorney , and/or may have been advised to try and settle ,

    Unless you want to go to court .
  5. #5
    woman934 is offline Junior Member
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    Exclamation Update - need new advice

    So we offered to settle for half and our LL never replied. Then we get a super threatening letter from his lawyer claiming that we were just being greedy, that we didn't understand anything about the law, and that they intend to ask for a jury trial instead of the judge. The lawyer also claimed that if they got a jury they would let the jury know that the LL's friend's son died and that he's been so busy that's why he was late in returning our deposit. Thereby he didn't retain our deposit in bad faith; he was just too busy to return it. The LL's lawyer recommended we cash the check that was sent to us (they only gave us half of what they owed!) and to call off the lawsuit.

    What do we need to do now? Do I need to get a lawyer as well?
  6. #6
    BL
    BL is online now Senior Member
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    I though the LL wanted to settle ?

    Ok , one last try .

    If you're willing to have the Bal. of the original security deposit back and be done with it , make a final offer for settlement to the Attorney .

    You will state that by settling the matter this way , both parties will be avoiding Court , and cost .

    Otherwise , you may end up having to hire a lawyer .

    The letter that was sent to you sounds more like bull dogging , but you never know .
  7. #7
    rubyrhea is offline Junior Member
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    I'm in a similar situation with my LL not returning my deposit in time.
    You have to ask yourself, "Would I have been forgiven if my rent was 6 months late because my friend's son died?". Probably not. If this is the case then he should have communicated that to you. Besides, how long does it take to write a check and put in in the mail? I would still pursue this if it were me. I would seek professional legal advice, if it were me.
  8. #8
    goetzman is offline Junior Member
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    we're in a situation with our texas landlord as well and are looking at going to small claims court.

    not sure, but IF YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS INITIATING THE CLAIM, do they really have the right to demand a jury trial?

    i thought you would be the one who gets to make that call?

    maybe someone here will know?
  9. #9
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    They can ASK for a jury trial, but those are almost never granted for small claims. And him being "too busy" to return your deposit on time, regardless of the reason, is NOT a valid legal defense and will not fly in any court, judge or jury. I don't even see how he thinks a jury trial will help him, seeing as most people have been tenants at some point in their lives, but few have been landlords. I say tell them you won't be intimidated, and go forward with the trial.
  10. #10
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    I agree. I'm a landlord and even I wouldn't buy the "too busy" and the landlords friends son dying excuse.

    Sounds a bit like the excuses we hear from tenants on why they can't pay their rent because their grandma died (sometimes several times over too!)

    Gail

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