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Hiring an Attorney in Sacramento

If you are stuck with a car that is a lemon or if an electronics store won’t repair the big screen television that you bought from it, you may need to hire an attorney to help resolve the dispute. Legal advice is also helpful if you are buying or selling a home or starting a new business. Attorneys can provide valuable advice on estate planning, tax matters, and marital issues.

Finding An Attorney

Ask your friends and neighbors for the names of any attorneys they have used and would recommend. State and local bar associations provide lawyer referral services. An attorney lists the types of cases he or she will accept. Attorneys participating in a lawyer referral program charge a set fee for an initial consultation. Federal and state legal services provide legal representation at no charge if you qualify under the program’s income guidelines. Legal directories list attorneys in a particular geographic area and also categorize attorneys by specialized areas such as personal injury and tort law, family law, criminal law, and other types of law. The Internet contains a wealth of information about lawyers and law firms. There are websites that provide locator services for attorneys having special expertise in a specific type of law.

Retainer Agreements

Retainer agreements (your contract with an attorney) are generally in writing. An attorney may charge a flat fee for handling routine matters like a simple will or an uncontested divorce. Hourly fees can vary depending upon the attorney’s experience and expertise in a particular area of law. Contingency fees mean that the attorney gets a percentage of any recovery you receive. Retainer fees are paid in advance to assure the attorney will handle your case. When services are performed, the legal fees are deducted from the retainer. Court filing fees, service of process fees, investigators’ fees, and witness fees are all additional expenses that are charged to the client.

Security Deposits on Rented Premises

What Is A Security Deposit?

Very often, when a landlord and a tenant enter into a lease agreement, the landlord requires the tenant to make some type of payment to the landlord in addition to the first month’s rent. The payment serves as security that the tenant will return the leased premises to the landlord, at the end of the lease term, in substantially the same condition as when the parties entered into the lease agreement.

How Much Can A Landlord Charge For A Security Deposit?

The amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit is governed by state law. The law varies from state to state. Usually, the amount of a security deposit is one to two months’ rent. The lease agreement between the parties should set forth the amount of the security deposit, as well as the manner of payment.

How Must The Landlord Maintain The Security Deposit During The Tenancy

Here again, the law of each state varies. Many states require landlords to maintain security deposits in a separate account and to pay simple interest on the security deposit to the tenant at the time the landlord returns the security deposit.

Deductions Against The Security Deposit/Tenant’s Accounting

The answer to this question lies in the applicable state law and the lease agreement between the parties. Typical items of deduction are as follows:

  • unpaid rent
  • repairs for items beyond normal wear and tear
  • refuse removal

Typically, when a landlord makes a deduction against the security deposit, the landlord must notify the tenant of the reason for the deduction and provide the tenant with some type of evidence (for example a receipt) as to the basis for the deduction.

The law of most states requires landlords to return security deposits within a fixed number of days and provides penalties in the event a landlord fails to make a timely return of a security deposit.