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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Trial De Novo on Small Claims Appeal

    My question involves small claims court in the state of: CA

    I am a plaintiff who was awarded the full amount that I asked for in my Small Claims trial earlier this year. I have a few questions regarding how to proceed.

    A little about my case: Defendant was Landlord that defaulted and went into Foreclosure on the property I was renting. The Defendant had been in default 3 months prior to renting the property out to me. A month after I moved in, I received notification that the Bank now owns the property and delivered a notification to vacate the premises. I don’t believe I was covered under the Tenant Foreclosure Act due to the property already being in default prior to lease agreement.

    I took a cash-for-keys deal and requested deposit back from original Landlord. First I requested via email and got denied. Second request was a certified letter in which I received no response. I then filed a small claims, in which the Defendant responded with a counter-suit for not notify him of my decision and therefore losing his appliances. The amount in the small claims was for only the amounts I paid to Landlord, which included deposit, rent, application fee, etc. I did not include moving fees, time spent/lost, difference in current rent, etc. The lease had a clause if the Landlord was unable to provide the property for the term of the lease, then I had the right to have all my money returned from the Landlord.

    The judge ruled in my favor. The landlord now has appealed the case via trial de novo.

    Now I have a few questions about the trial de novo that I would appreciate any help on.

    1) Is trial de novo the normal process for small claims appeals? Does this type of appeal hurt me?
    2) Can I add any additional costs/fees to this appeal that I did not include in the original case?
    3) Any advice or points I should focus on? I know Defendant is trying to throw to say I had a choice of staying due to the Tenant Foreclosure Act and add my cash-for-keys deal as a security deposit return, in which no language was stated of that in agreement with Bank.
    4) What happens after trial de novo and judge rules in my favor again? Does Landlord have to pay immediately?
    5) The Defendant appealed the case, in which the trial de novo isn't until 6 months later. Why is that? Can I make sooner?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Trial De Novo on Small Claims Appeal

    Why does your landlord believe it's your fault that he lost his appliances? Presumably you didn't take them.

    1. Yes. You will have to prove your case again in the new trial.

    2. You can ask the court to award taxable costs, which may well be higher after a second trial.

    3. You should focus on whatever will help you win your case. Unless the landlord transferred your security deposit to the buyer at foreclosure, the "cash for keys" arrangement would appear irrelevant.

    4. You try to collect your judgment. If the defendant doesn't pay voluntarily you can explore such remedies as garnishment and execution.

    5. Odds are, that's the result of the court's having a congested calendar, and due to criminal cases having priority. Unfortunately I doubt you'll be able to obtain an earlier trial date. You can try talking to the judge's secretary.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Default Re: Trial De Novo on Small Claims Appeal

    I dont know why the Landlord believes I'm responsible for the appliances......They know the appliances were left and verified by the bank. I think the landlord is doing everything possible to make it more difficult for me, that's why I wanted to see if I could add a bad faith penalty.

    As for #2, What can I add or how do I figure the taxable costs? In addition, as most small claims cases, I am representing myself - no attorney.

    Do I have a strong case?

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