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A Guide to Taking Your Landlord to Texas Small Claims Court

Have you called, written, or even visited your landlord’s office and still can’t get your deposit back?

Landlord problems get handled in Texas small claims court (formally known as the justice court). It’s a court that allows you to sue for up to $10,000 to settle a dispute.

How do you file a claim in small claims court? Keep reading to learn how to take your landlord to court.

How to File a Suit in Texas Small Claims Court

If you are over 18 years old and have a case against your landlord, then you can file a suit in small claims court. However, you should always first try to resolve the matter out of court, either directly with your landlord or with your apartment association.

What Information Do You Need to Sue?

First, you need to sue the right person. Start by determining whether your landlord is a sole proprietor or if they are a part of a partnership, limited liability company, or another legal entity. If they are a sole proprietor, your suit is against the individual. Otherwise, it’s against the partnership or entity.

To file, you must do so within the county where the property in question is located, which may not be your or your landlord’s current county of residence.

Finally, you should make sure you file within the correct timeline. Filing a claim within six months after your landlord denied your deposit is prudent. If you have waited years, talk to a lawyer first.

How Do You Complete the Paperwork?

To get the ball rolling, you need your records. In most cases, this includes:

  • your tenancy agreement or lease,
  • your check-in and check-out papers,
  • the letter denying your deposit or itemized list of deductions you want to contest
  • your landlord’s name and address
  • the amount you want to claim (deposit plus interest)
  • a statement for the basis of the claim

You then contact the justice of the peace in your county to make sure the court is correct. They will direct you to the information related to their court, including the fees, and the procedure needed to file.

Be sure to ask the clerk for a copy of the instructions as well as a “Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs” if you can’t afford the fees.

You then file the lawsuit in person and begin to prepare your case.

Preparing the Case for Your Lawsuit

Start preparing for your court date by writing out a clear statement of the facts complete with exact dates as well as written or digital communication (emails, texts, etc.).

You also need all the original documentation, including contracts, photographs, receipts, and emails. You will need two copies and your originals on your court date.

If there are any witnesses, ask them to attend and give a statement.

Your Landlord Can’t Simply Keep Your Deposit

Landlords must return tenant’s security deposits within 30 days of departure unless they have a valid reason to keep it.

If your landlord won’t give your money back, there’s something you can do: sue them. Do you have questions about your landlord woes? Contact us today to learn more.

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