Everybody’s guide to Small Claims Court in California

Preparing for my day in court to get the remaining $210 of my security deposit back from landlord Bill Newland. I rented a unit at 601 Minnesota St in San Francisco for 15 months. Bill thought that I didn’t stay long enough, and decided to dock me for repainting the unit, which is not allowable under California law. This book has some good tips on how to prepare for small claims court. Giddyup!
Update– this is a helpful book, really detailed. The 15 or so pages on security deposits convinced me that I had a case. I sent my demand letter (see below), and 5 days later received a check for the remaining $210, with a petulant handwritten letter from the landlord complaining that I was the first tenant in 13 years who had threatened small claims court. Thanks Bill! I’m the first tenant who stood up for herself? Glad to hear it. At any rate, no further need for this book.
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Received letter 6/18
From Bill: “…You moved in 3/20/04 with an $1825 deposit and moved out 6/9/05, approximately 15 months later… I know your circumstances changed but I was disappointed you moved out so soon as we have additional expenses to return the unit to rentable condition. My painter charged $210 to touch up and repaint areas of the unit… which I believe fair to charge you after such a short tenancy…”
My response 6/23:
“Dear Bill,
I received a partial payment of my security deposit from you and would appreciate your prompt payment of the remaining $210. You deducted $210 from the deposit to cover the cost of painting the unit. Since I did not paint the unit while I stayed there, I assume the paint job was to cover a few scuffmarks on the walls, e.g. normal wear & tear.
I moved into the unit on 3/20/04 and moved out almost fifteen months later on 6/9/05. The term of my lease was twelve months. I had my walk through of the apartment with Mike K., the building manager, on 6/9/05. Mike pointed out 3 areas that needed additional cleaning (top of cabinets, kitchen roof, bathtub) which I took care of that day. I was never informed that I was on the hook to pay for painting the apartment. Had I been told so, I would have purchased a small amount of paint for less than $10 to cover the few scuffmarks on the wall that your painter took care of.
Additionally, the receipt you furnished with your explanation of the deduction is suspect. The receipt states that the work was performed at units 202 and 218, and you have crossed through “202” in 2 places on the receipt, and have handwritten “218” to replace “202”.
Lastly, I put $200 worth of improvements into the unit by installing additional storage/shelving by the closet at the back of the unit.
Please send a check for $210 on or before June 30. If I don’t receive payment by that date, I’ll file this case in small claims court.”
From Bill, 6/28:
“I received your registered letter of June 22. You’re the first tenant in thirteen years to threaten to take me to small claims court… I do not wish to spend more time on this and am enclosing the remaining $210 of your deposit.”
Well, thanks Bill.

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Zeno’s Conscience

Translated by William Weaver.
Started and finished this one in Mexico. I was driven to read this because of the drawings by William Kentridge on display at the Met– Zeno at 4AM.
Zeno a comic figure who indulges himself and lives a pleasant life.
Smoke: several thousand declarations of “Last Cigarette!” with the date and circumstances. Zeno tries to quit smoking, convinces his wife to lock him up for a cure, and immediately becomes paranoid that his wife & the doctor are having an affair. Locked in a cell, he begins drinking with his gatekeeper and slips out the jail when she gets trashed.
My Father’s Death: “15.4.1890. My father dies. L.C.” as in last cigarette. Zeno’s father waits up for him for dinner, and when Zeno gets home late, sits up with him. Zeno’s surliness is later regretted when his father ends up having an anurism that night. A doctor applies leeches to the father to restore him to consciousness, where he lingers for a few days, then reproaches his son, “I’m dying!” before crumpling to the floor.
The Story of my Marriage: Zeno meets Giovanni as he tries to learn the business world. Eventually making the acquaintance of his daughters, Zeno sets his sights on marrying one of them. “The idea of marrying may therefore have come to me from the weariness of emitting and hearing always that one note.” He falls desparately for Ada, who has no interest in him, and spends the next several months in daily visits to the house entertaining the 3 girls (Ada, Alberta, and Augusta) while the youngest (Anna) tells him he is crazy and will be locked up. After rejections from Ada and Alberta, Augusta agrees to marry him. Guido the slick violin playing suitor wins Ada, so the foursome chaperone each other in their respective engagements.
Wife and Mistress: life with Augusta turns out to be splendid, and Zeno loves her greatly. But then naturally continues to pursue other women, namely Carla.
The Story of a Business Partnership: probably my favorite of the sections. Details Zeno’s relationship with Guido, who has a mistress in Carmen, the business secretary. Fishing, hunting, and Ada’s illness that takes away her beauty. Guido and Zeno dream up plans for the business but their less-than great acumen nearly bankrupts the firm. Guido attempts suicide once unsucessfully, then once later on, sucessfully.
Psychoanalysis: Zeno wraps up his journal with some slings at the doctor who forced him to write it

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