Can I force the person that I subletted an apartment from to return my security deposit if he has agreed via email to return it?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I force the person that I subletted an apartment from to return my security deposit if he has agreed via email to return it?

My security deposit has not been returned from the person I subleased from the past summer. Our agreement was independent of the apartment landlord. At the end of the summer he agreed to return $150. We have since been in contact, but he has yet to send payment despite his promise. Correspondence has been entirely through email; nothing is in writing. Can I sue to get my money back? In what court? Would it require a lawyer? If I lost, could I possibly owe more money or could he countersue? I am especially worried because he is a law student.

Asked on February 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you had an agreement by which he would return a certain amount of money to you and he has not done so, you may sue to enforce that agreement. However, it may not be worth doing so. For $150, the only way it would make any sense is in small claims court. You'd still have some filing fee (usually around $25 - $45, depending on the court) and you'd represent yourself--meaning you'd have to take time out from work, studies, etc. to do this. If your agreement is not in writing, proving it could be difficult--though email does count as writing, as long as you've retained the emails. No legal action is every 100% certain. Thus, you could be spending $25-$45 plus your time for a change--possibly a good chance, but still not a guarantee--of recovering $150.

As long as your case is not frivalous--which it does appear to be--you would not owe him any money if you lost, unless he asserts some sort of counterclaim (e.g. for additional damages to the apartment) against you and wins on them.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption