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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Introduction To Our Story

When Marilyn and I decided to move out of our apartment in Long Beach, California, we never thought we’d be writing about our experience in a book! Our former landlord, Mr. Peterson, had told us on numerous occasions that we could move at any time and break the lease so he could rent the apartment at a higher monthly rate. However, when we took him up on his offer, his promise couldn’t have been further from the truth. Rather than let us go in peace as he had originally promised, after we moved out he kept Marilyn’s $3,100 deposit and launched an unscrupulous legal attack against her (as the sole lease holder) in an attempt to steal her money.

By the time we arrived in court to plead our case, he had filed five small claims lawsuits against Marilyn demanding over $12,000! (He dismissed the three “unpaid rent” lawsuits three days before we testified in court.) After a lot of research, consulting with attorneys and careful preparation of our evidence, we were able to win in small claims court and legally force the landlord to return Marilyn’s deposit in full. [The judge ruled that the deposit from Marilyn’s first apartment be returned in full, which was $2,426. We think there may have been an error and that the judge actually meant for the deposit from the second apartment be returned in full, which was $3,100.]

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

Marilyn and I were fortunate: prior to moving out we were tipped off by a former tenant that the landlord had filed a lawsuit against him — based on fabricated claims — so before and after moving I thoroughly prepared us for an eventual lawsuit. We later discovered — from talking with numerous previous tenants — that the landlord had a habit of denying his tenants their legal rights, fabricating claims and then suing his former tenants in court. Some past tenants fared better than others, but we have been the only ones (that we know of) who got their entire deposit back based on a court order.

Of course it was infuriating that the landlord was using the California landlord tenant laws to try to steal Marilyn’s money (and the other tenants’ money as well), but what’s even more frustrating is that there is no legal way to stop a landlord from continually scamming his tenants for financial gain. Lying in court to steal money from tenants is not considered a criminal offense — whether it’s done to one tenant or 1,000. Furthermore, a landlord cannot be sued in civil court for such unscrupulous behavior, since renting apartments to tenants is not considered a business (wherein the business could be sued for “unfair business practices”).

Even if a landlord could be sued in this manner, it’s very expensive and beyond the finances of most tenants. And, since landlords know that most of the time they’ll get away with stealing their tenants’ money by abusing the landlord tenant laws and lying in court, they do it over and over again with impunity. For the criminal-minded landlord, it’s an underhanded, and legal, way of getting more money at the tenant’s expense.

When Marilyn and I discovered that there was no legal way to stop our former landlord from continuing his practice of fabricating claims against tenants for financial gain, and learned that the same is true for other landlords as well, we did the next best thing: we wrote this book. Marilyn spent over $1,400 and I put in over 200 hours to prepare for small claims court, so we’ve decided to share our experience and wisdom to help other tenants scammed by their landlords get their security deposit returned. Furthermore, another purpose of this book is to share with you our presentation folder that won in court so as to give you a real-life example of how to deal with your unscrupulous landlord.

Whether you live in California or another state, you can use the principles in this book to win in small claims court and get your deposit back. As you read through the book, keep this in mind for small claims court: argue law first, and your landlord’s claims second. This means you have to learn the landlord tenant laws of your state and what they mean (I only discuss California law in this book), and you have to properly gather and prepare your evidence. You are in a very advantageous position if you read this book before moving out, and there is also plenty you can do if you have already moved. If you prepare properly and get a fair judge, you will prevail!