Tag Archives: DAMAGES

Small claims court for landlord dispute?

Q: We moved out of our apartment 2 weeks ago and I contacted my landlord to ask about getting the deposit back. She informs me we have a flea infestation and will be withholding at least some of our very expensive deposit. We were shocked because at first, this may sound plausible because we do have a cat and a dog. However, all our pets have been on flea meds forever. I have inspected them and our vets have inspected them and they do not have fleas. They never have. Nor have I ever seen a single flea or gotten a bite. As far as I am concerned this is a total lie. Do I have a case for small claims court or is this a losing battle? I am a poor graduate student and I feel like I am just getting taken advantage of. We have been model tenets and were anal about cleaning the apartment when we left. Thank you. (Plum Borough, PA)

A: Generally, a landlord has thirty (30) days to return a security deposit to a tenant after vacancy. Proof is always an issue in these cases. My suggestion is to send the landlord a written demand via regular mail and certified mail, return receipt, (green card), in which you request your security deposit to be returned and provide your new forwarding arrest. You can state in the letter the date upon which you vacated the premise. The burden would then be on the landlord to either pay you or provide written reasons why she is not. If you feel her reasons are not genuine, you can file a complaint for return of the security deposit plus costs at the local District Justice. If you win the landlord is subject to paying you damages above and beyond your deposit and costs. I would have your veterinarian documents prepared for court. If the landlord is represented by counsel, you may want to have one as well.

Can I get out of a Standard Agreement for the Sale of Real Estate that I signed?

Q: I signed a Standard Agreement for the Sale of Real Estate and closing is scheduled for 7/26. I suffer from major depression and I was also withdrawing from a prescription from my doctor. I do not believe I was of sound mind and capable of making the decision at the time. Can I void the sale and cancel the closing? What are the potential consequences if I do this? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Your stated reason for rescinding the sales agreement will likely not be valid and I therefore would not disclose this to anyone. The answer lies within the language of the sales agreement. The damages against you may be limited to the security deposit. If so, the seller therefore cannot seek consequential damages. Read the paragraph which addresses damages. I am not sure which version of the sales agreement you have but it may be paragraph 22. If your damages are not limited by the wording of the agreement, I would pay an attorney to examine language of the agreement pertaining to inspections and other conditions precedent to acceptance of the property. If you have not already had an inspection performed, a building inspector may be very helpful to you. Follow the advice of your attorney.

Bad haircut. Can I sue?

Q: I went to Supercuts for a hair-cut. She was in a big hurry. She actually scalped me. The easiest way to describe it is if you have ever seen a comedy sketch where someone clips the back of the head and there is a bald spot there. That’s exactly what she did but mine is not growing back. I contacted them. They said I was just a trouble maker trying to get someone fired. I had to go through the holidays like that let alone being teased at work All I wanted is them to fix my hair. I can’t go through life like this

A: ¬†Our hair people have more power than we realize. It reminds me of the old Morrissey song titled, ‘Hair Dresser on Fire”. “…I sense the power, in the fingers, within an hour the power can totally destroy me, or it can save my life….” We are all sensitive about our hair. Most people can understand. The problem is that in law, this case does not have a high monetary value. If you were a public figure, actor, or politician, who appeared in front of thousands of people, the case would have more measurable damages. This is not meant to devalue your existence. It is just accepted, that people who rely on their appearance for a living will have higher damages when their appearance is somehow damaged. Talk to another more sensitive hair person or make up person. There are ways to conceal this. They sell like a paint in hair colors to conceal temporary bald spots. Do not despair, it will grow back.

Can a landlord charge for time and labor in PA?

Q: My tenants left without a 60-day written notice required by their lease agreement. One day they just send me a text message that their lease expired and the keys are on the kitchen counter top. Of course they did trash the place. I even found dog poop in the house, when they were not authorized to have pets in. My husband spent 86.5 hours fixing the property (carpentry, painting, cleaning, yard work) and I spent 15 hours of cleaning as well. Their security deposit was $1000 which covered materials. Can we charge for our time and labor and is $12/hour reasonable for his labor and $10/hour for mine when we go to small claim court?

A: Generally, yes. You can keep their security deposit to use in repairing damage they caused. Plus, if you sue them, you can charge materials and a reasonable labor rate for repairs to damages as long as it wasn’t normal wear and tear you are fixing. You need to keep a record of everything, take photos and you also may want a contractor to put a written repair estimate together, so your estimate appears reasonable. Sometimes court view high damage bills from landlords who do the work themselves with suspicion. Remember to respond to their written request for their security deposit in writing informing specifically them of why the deposit will not be returned.

CAN I SUE FOR UNFINISHED WORK ON CONTRACT?

Q: I have an incomplete contract from a client, can I sue for the monetary value of the rest of the terms? I had a contract with a client for 18 months, but only completed seven months of it because he could “no longer afford to” pay on it. Is this an acceptable reason for him to discontinue said contract, or can I sue for the value of the 11 months unpaid and unworked?

A: It depends on the language in the contract. A good contract would have spelled out damages if there is a breach. If the contract does not spell what constitutes breach and does not address damages, you possibly may be able to recover under other theories of contract law, such as quantum meruit . This ancient contract doctrine is based on the work you actually performed that you were not paid for or costs that you advanced for which you were not reimbursed for months 8 through 18. You really need to let a lawyer look at the contract and hear all of the facts to assess whether you have grounds to sue, and whether it would be worth suing this particular defendant.

Can I Sue for Unfinished Work on a Contract?

Q: I have an incomplete contract from a client, can I sue for the monetary value of the rest of the terms? I had a contract with a client for 18 months, but only completed seven months of it because he could “no longer afford to” pay on it. Is this an acceptable reason for him to discontinue said contract, or can I sue for the value of the 11 months unpaid and unworked?

A: It depends on the language in the contract. A good contract would have spelled out damages if there is a breach. If the contract does not spell what constitutes breach and does not address damages, you possibly may be able to recover under other theories of contract law, such as quantum meruit . This ancient contract doctrine is based on the work you actually performed that you were not paid for or costs that you advanced for which you were not reimbursed for months 8 through 18. You really need to let a lawyer look at the contract and hear all of the facts to assess whether you have grounds to sue, and whether it would be worth suing this particular defendant.

CAN I SUE FOR UNFINISHED WORK ON CONTRACT?

Q: I have an incomplete contract from a client, can I sue for the monetary value of the rest of the terms? I had a contract with a client for 18 months, but only completed seven months of it because he could “no longer afford to” pay on it. Is this an acceptable reason for him to discontinue said contract, or can I sue for the value of the 11 months unpaid and unworked?

A: It depends on the language in the contract. A good contract would have spelled out damages if there is a breach. If the contract does not spell what constitutes breach and does not address damages, you possibly may be able to recover under other theories of contract law, such as quantum meruit . This ancient contract doctrine is based on the work you actually performed that you were not paid for or costs that you advanced for which you were not reimbursed for months 8 through 18. You really need to let a lawyer look at the contract and hear all of the facts to assess whether you have grounds to sue, and whether it would be worth suing this particular defendant.