March 11, 2005
your legal question
I live in Houston, Texas
and last year I won a judgment in small claims court against the owner
of a wrecking
company for about $900 but he has not paid. Although the amount
is not a lot, as a matter of principal I would like to find out how I
can pursue this case. I have contacted several lawyers and it seems
them are willing to take this case because the financial rewards are
not appealing. Is there any way I can follow it up myself?
Thanks for your
Every state has different rules and regulations governing the collection
a judgment. Unfortunately, your situation is common in that many individuals
have been successful in their case, however cannot collect. There is
a legal document entitled a “writ of attachment.” (You would
have to find out about the legal equivalent in Texas).
means that the Court, having acknowledged your judgment, in essence places
a lien on the defendant’s property. Consequently, you are deemed
a “creditor.” Although this process may not show immediate
results, when the business is transferred or sold, you are entitled to
your $900. Also, you would be able to seek interest. For example,
in California you would be entitled to 10% interest on the money that
is owed to you.
As for the issue of assistance from an attorney, in light of the amount
in dispute, I am confident that you could do every bit as good of a job.
I have entered into a three-year lease for a commercial property. The
first couple of months were fine, but now I cannot make enough money
to pay the rent. The landlord has told me that I have three days to get
out. I am worried that I will be responsible for the remainder of the
rent. What would you suggest?
A lease is a type of contract, whereby you are basically binding yourself
to, in your case, a three-year commitment. Fortunately, the law takes
the fact that real property is unique into consideration. I would suggest
an attempt to find an individual (friend, relative, etc.) with the financial
capability to become a tenant and assume both financial and physical
responsibility of your property.
As for the issue of the several remaining
payments for rent, the landlord has a “duty to mitigate his/her
damages.” This means that
a landlord cannot simply sit back without pursuing other options and
simply have you shoulder the entire term of your rental agreement. For
example, if your rent is $1,000 per month and it took the landlord two
months to find a tenant, you would be responsible for $2,000. Certainly,
the landlord cannot find a new tenant and collect from both of you.
respect to the three day notice, my suggestion would be to vacate the
premises immediately. Otherwise, the landlord could file an unlawful
detainer, to which you would have only five days to respond. Assuming
that a response was in fact filed, a majority of these commercial lease
agreements have an attorney’s fee provision, meaning that you would
be responsible for the landlord’s legal costs in evicting you.
Ali Taheripour, Esq.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Law Offices of Ali Taheripour
12754 Ventura Blvd, Ste D
Studio City, CA 91604
Tel: (818) 754-6777
Fax: (818) 754-6778
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