Recover Your Security Deposit!
Defeat your landlord in small claims court–just like we did.

Table of Contents
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Preface - Home Page
Foreword - by Ken Carlson, tenant attorney

PART I: Some basic guidelines
1. Break your lease
2. Get your security deposit returned

PART II: Prepare for small claims court
3. Learn your state’s landlord tenant law
4. Contact former and current tenants
5. Organize your evidence
6. Consult with an attorney
7. Write a rebuttal to landlord’s claims
8. Create a presentation folder
9. File a lawsuit; or defend against one
10. Testify, and win, in small claims court
11. Collect the judgment

PART III: Winning presentation folder
12. Follow our lead (eBook)
13. Front cover (eBook)
14. Small claims lawsuits (eBook)
15. Plaintiff’s clams (eBook)
16. Defendant’s rebuttal (eBook)
17. Move-in, move-out timeline (eBook)
18. Landlord tenant law violations (eBook)
19. Photographic evidence (eBook)
20. Exhibits (eBook)
21. Conclusion (eBook)
22. Court ordered judgment (eBook)

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Larry Cook, Author of this website
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10. Testify, and win, in small claims court

To allay the fear of speaking to a judge and in a public courtroom, I suggest you rehearse at home. Talk to a friend as though the friend is the judge. That’s what we did, and it helped to get rid of nervousness and keep to the point. Being prepared is important. When the judge asked Marilyn to respond to the landlord’s charges, she immediately requested the judge review the presentation folder with her, just as she had rehearsed. In so doing, she changed the course of the judge’s questions to her favor. If the judge asks you, “Did you paint the walls yellow,” don’t reply, “Your Honor, back in June my boyfriend and I wanted to liven up the place and so we decided it was time to paint over the peeling paint in the living room and, well, Your Honor, we chose the color yellow for the living room because….”

Did you roll your eyes? The judge’s eyes will roll, too. Just say “yes.” If the judge asks “why,” give your answer then, but be brief! Remember, it’s more about the law, not what you did. In fact, your reply could be: “yes,” and then, “Your Honor, my understanding of California Civil Code 1950.5 is that my deposit can only be withheld for damage, and painting my unit yellow is not considered damage.” See the difference? Argue the law, instead of claims of damage, when you can.

Dear Larry: Just wanted to say thanks. Your website/book helped us win in court. I spent several hours preparing our binder and felt very organized going into court. Looking around we saw everyone else come in with loose papers just like you had said. We felt very prepared, but unfortunately the judge hardly looked at our binder. He just looked at what the landlord lacked as proof and awarded us judgement. Although the binder wasn't the deciding factor, it sure did help us have the confidence to stand up to our landlord in court. ~ Sincerely, Tonia Baily

Larry helped me get my deposit back from my slumlord. I highly recommend his presentation folder and expertize. I would not have received a dime without his help! Heather Hoffman Kimel

If the landlord is suing you, it’s likely he will speak first. If you get a lying landlord, you may be tempted to refute the lies when the judge asks for your version. Don’t be tempted, because in small claims court presentation time is limited to around five to ten minutes! Instead, I suggest the first thing you do is give the judge your presentation folder, and let him know you can prove that your landlord violated numerous provisions of the landlord tenant law, and that your photographic evidence will clearly show that the landlord fabricated claims against you to steal your money (or that you have witnesses to testify, in person or in writing, etc.).

Once the judge takes your folder, unless he asks you otherwise, I suggest you go straight to the Landlord Tenant Law section, and ask the judge to review with you how the landlord violated your rights as a tenant. Be quick, and brief. Next comes the photographic evidence. Begin by pointing out the most outrageous claims first, and so on. You want to prove that the landlord violated your rights as a tenant first, and then that the landlord is lying for financial gain (e.g. to steal your money!). If you have any time left, point out that you wrote a rebuttal letter to your landlord’s claims, and skim the letter, pointing out the sub heads (which speak to the judge, remember?).

And if you still have time left, start flipping through your numerous Exhibits written by friends/witnesses/former tenants who back your claims. If you got that far in small claims court, congratulations! Ask the judge what questions he has for you. Finally, ask the judge to give you your full deposit back, and to award you additional damages for your landlord’s “bad faith claim” (as defined in your state’s landlord tenant law).

As you are reading this book, it’s quite possible you are thinking that there is just too much to remember and keep track of to be successful. Here’s the deal: just follow my advice, step by step, with the ultimate goal of building your presentation folder. I assure you that by the time you have finished your presentation folder, you’ll know the evidence inside and out, and you’ll therefore know what to say to the judge. Don’t fret, because once your presentation folder is complete, you will be “in the zone"!