My New Lawsuit

The next step was to send a demand letter. The demand letter resulted in a small, partial refund: $175 out of $500. The landlord failed to acknowledge there was a $250 refundable pet deposit. On the balance, he withheld $75 for inexplicable "cleaning" charges.

My reading of the Texas Property Law suggests that they are way, way out of line. So, yesterday I filed suit in small claims court for three times the amount withheld plus $100. That's a significant chunk of change—if the judge sees it my way.

Just as the demand letter spurred a response (albeit inadequate), so too did the filing (also inadequate). They are now offering to return half the pet deposit (yeah, the deposit they wouldn't acknowledge before), and are making claims I didn't meet all the obligations for move-out. The thing is even if that was true, even if I punched out the walls into a swiss cheese of plaster, I think Texas law says their failure to refund within thirty days negates their right to make any withholding whatsoever.

I don't believe their offer is reasonable. I'm telling them the time for that discussion was back in January. Although I think their claimed deductions are crap, I probably would have just sucked them up if they were done at the proper time. At this point, they've caused significant additional pain, hardship, and expense, and I feel like they need to do better. I can document the deposits paid and their failure to respond on time, so I don't think I'm being unreasonable to want better.

I'm hate this stuff. I'm no good at conflict. I've got a little voice that says be accommodating and reasonable. I'm struggling to hold that voice in check.

I've been involved in legal conflict before. Although the stakes were much higher then, I had good legal help. They shielded me from the direct conflict. This time, I'm pretty much on my own. I think I've got the law on my side, but that's all I've got, and I'm cynical enough to wonder if that's sufficient.

It would be nice if this thing was resolved in my favor in time to pay the May rent. Even better, it would be nice if there aren't too many more sleepless nights before it's over.


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re: My New Lawsuit

Stick to your guns, Chip. I've been screwed out of deposits in the past and didn't stand up for myself.

BTW, I need to e-mail you. Speaking of previous lawsuits, I'm about to get involved in a domain dispute and I'd like to see if you have any advice.