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    Small Claims Court

    I'm thinking about making a case vs my apartment complex for some rent check problem, that they have failed to resolve. It's been about a year since the problem has occurred and they are taking no step to reimburse me. So, I'm thinking about taking this to small claims court. Has anybody ever gone to small claims court? I have a couple questions about it, if you could answer.

    Is there a required fee that the plaintiff has to pay?
    If yes, how much?
    Is there a claims court in Ames, or do I have to go to the county seat?
    Is it hard to file a claim and how long does it take?
    Thanks!


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    I went to small claims court in 2001 for an accident- I was hit by an unlicensed, uninsured Mexican and totalled my motorcycle. He was only charged with no license and no insurance even though the accident was clearly his fault, so I had to file small claims to get a judgement against him for the bike.

    It was really easy to file, I don't remember how much it cost but I'm pretty sure it was under $100 which I just added to the claim anyways. In my case it was really easy because he didn't show up for our court date even though he had accepted the subponea via certified mail. So I just had to explain to the judge what happened and I won the full amount automatically. I'm sure it won't be that easy assuming your defendant actually shows up, but there's not much to it. If he had shown up I imagine it would've been a lot like People's Court- we both get a chance to explain our side to the judge, without a lot of legal formality. None of that probably helps you much though since like I said he didn't show up. I can tell you it was in Nevada though.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleClone View Post
    I went to small claims court in 2001 for an accident- I was hit by an unlicensed, uninsured Mexican and totalled my motorcycle. He was only charged with no license and no insurance even though the accident was clearly his fault, so I had to file small claims to get a judgement against him for the bike.

    It was really easy to file, I don't remember how much it cost but I'm pretty sure it was under $100 which I just added to the claim anyways. In my case it was really easy because he didn't show up for our court date even though he had accepted the subponea via certified mail. So I just had to explain to the judge what happened and I won the full amount automatically. I'm sure it won't be that easy assuming your defendant actually shows up, but there's not much to it. If he had shown up I imagine it would've been a lot like People's Court- we both get a chance to explain our side to the judge, without a lot of legal formality. None of that probably helps you much though since like I said he didn't show up. I can tell you it was in Nevada though.
    Thanks for the info.
    I'm hoping my apt. people don't show up, like what happened to you, and I win the full settlement without arguement.
    But, I'm not expecting that to happen since they are located right here in Ames.


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclonedave25 View Post
    I'm thinking about making a case vs my apartment complex for some rent check problem, that they have failed to resolve. It's been about a year since the problem has occurred and they are taking no step to reimburse me. So, I'm thinking about taking this to small claims court. Has anybody ever gone to small claims court? I have a couple questions about it, if you could answer.

    Is there a required fee that the plaintiff has to pay?
    If yes, how much?
    Is there a claims court in Ames, or do I have to go to the county seat?
    Is it hard to file a claim and how long does it take?
    Thanks!
    Have you spoken to a lawyer (family friend?). Sometimes all it takes is a letter or a phone call to get apmt mgmt to straighten up.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    I think everyone should file at least 1 claim in small claims court. It has been awhile but generally the losing party pays the court costs. It can take a while and sometimes you even have to go back to court to get them to pay.

    The first thing I would do is send them a letter via certified mail telling them you are going to take them to court by a certain date unless they remedy the situation. I usually throw in they will have to pay the court fees when the lose. That usually takes care of the problem for me.


    Last edited by ffelknirznarf; 03-03-2009 at 07:19 PM.

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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by madcityCY View Post
    Have you spoken to a lawyer (family friend?). Sometimes all it takes is a letter or a phone call to get apmt mgmt to straighten up.
    No, I haven't. That's what my parents recommended before anything. I might do that, just to see if it saves me the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by ffelknirznarf View Post
    I think everyone should file at least 1 claim in small claims court. It has been awhile but generally the losing party pays the court costs. It can take a while and sometimes you even have to go back to court to get them to pay.

    The first thing I would do is send them a letter via certified mail telling them you are going to take them to court by a certain date unless they remedy the situation. I usually throw in they will have to pay the court fees when the lose. That usually takes care of the problem for me.
    I sent them a letter, but got no reply. And that was about 1 week ago.


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Go for it, guy. My Dad who had no legal training had many reasons as an apartment owner to go to small claims court because many people never paid their money even when they were subsidized by the country. It was fairly easy and it ended up in the right decisions.Collecting happened eventually. He was always fair to the people who did not live upto he agreements.Small claims cour is good for up to 3k? Go for it. That is why it is thee.


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Apartmentratings.com

    I faced a similar situation at my former place and they wouldn't budge. I wrote a logical and straightforward two page summary of everything that sucked about the place. *key on logical and straightforward, otherwise you look silly and trivial. Within half a day I got a call and my full total was reimbursed.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by SeattleClone View Post
    I went to small claims court in 2001 for an accident- I was hit by an unlicensed, uninsured Mexican and totalled my motorcycle. He was only charged with no license and no insurance even though the accident was clearly his fault, so I had to file small claims to get a judgement against him for the bike.

    It was really easy to file, I don't remember how much it cost but I'm pretty sure it was under $100 which I just added to the claim anyways. In my case it was really easy because he didn't show up for our court date even though he had accepted the subponea via certified mail. So I just had to explain to the judge what happened and I won the full amount automatically. I'm sure it won't be that easy assuming your defendant actually shows up, but there's not much to it. If he had shown up I imagine it would've been a lot like People's Court- we both get a chance to explain our side to the judge, without a lot of legal formality. None of that probably helps you much though since like I said he didn't show up. I can tell you it was in Nevada though.
    How did you get your money? I won in small claims court and then had to file and serve papers to garnish their wages. It cost me about $120 to get about $200. Yes, you add that on to the amount owed, but each year I would have to file and serve papers again. It would have taken years to get the $1,500 judgement. I just tired of it.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Thanks for all the information, everybody!


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclones_R_GR8 View Post
    How did you get your money? I won in small claims court and then had to file and serve papers to garnish their wages. It cost me about $120 to get about $200. Yes, you add that on to the amount owed, but each year I would have to file and serve papers again. It would have taken years to get the $1,500 judgement. I just tired of it.
    He kept saying he was going to pay me but I was having a hard time actually getting any money. I filed paperwork to have his wages garnished, he worked at a restaurant in Ankeny. The day after the Polk County Sheriff showed up at his work he called me and we set up a monthly payment plan... apparently his boss wasn't happy about the cops knocking on the door. I did eventually get all my money over the course of a few years. I can't even remember what the exact total was, but it was the max for small claims court, ~$3000 I think.

    Again here, I probably got lucky... well as lucky as someone who had their motorcycle wrecked by someone else's fault can be. He was a really nice guy and really seemed like he wanted to pay me, he just didn't have much money. At times I almost felt bad for him but I just had to remind myself that I didn't have a bike anymore.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    I am an attorney that works for an organization that puts out publications about various Iowa law topics. We happen to have one on small claims court. I could send you one for free if you want.

    I routinely represent tenants in landlord tenant cases in small claims court. It is a fairly easy process.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedcardinalandgold View Post
    I am an attorney that works for an organization that puts out publications about various Iowa law topics. We happen to have one on small claims court. I could send you one for free if you want.

    I routinely represent tenants in landlord tenant cases in small claims court. It is a fairly easy process.
    Do the tenants win most of the time? (if the case is appropriate)


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    Re: Small Claims Court

    Sometimes. It depends on the type of case - whether it is an eviction or an action for money judgment, ect.

    It sounds like you may be needing to file an action for money judgment. If this is a security deposit issue, then there are some very specific rules on what a tenant needs to do prior to filing a case in small claims court.

    If it is some other money judgment issue, then all I can tell you is to make sure you have good evidence of the value (reciepts)and/or have witnesses who can testify to things, and make sure to review your lease. Your lease is the most important document you can have. If you no longer have a copy, you could request it from the landlord. The landlord is not legally obligated to provide you with a copy though.



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    Re: Small Claims Court

    To further answer your questions.

    The cost is about 100 dollars to file after you factor in service fees. Once you have filed the case, you will have to serve the landlord. You can provide a copy to the county sheriff and they will serve it for you. The landlord will then have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit. In the event you can't resolve the issues, then a trial will be set. The trial will likely occur within 2 months of filing. It depends how busy the small claims court is in Story County. You need to file the case at the Story County Courthouse. The clerk of the small claims should have forms for you to use. The clerk will be very accommodating and answer most questions about filing - they can't provide you with legal advice.



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