Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. I must
first mention our disclaimer at the bottom of this page that explains
our policy about providing legal advice. Since we cannot act as a
legal representative in this forum what I am showing you is a matter
of published law available to the public:
?Does he have a valid case for taking me to court for the cable modem
despite not having any evidence that I took the item??
You?ve mixed two terms here so there are two issues that need to be
clarified. In order to understand the situation better let me define
-- A ?Viable case? is a case that is prosecutable (i.e. potentially ?winnable?).
-- A ?Valid complaint? is a justified complaint based on the
circumstances as applied to the law.
-- Also, for all intents and purposes your primary ?landlord? is the
person who sublet the accommodations to you (your ?primary roommate?)
though the apartment complex can also pursue you in some instances.
Whether or not your landlord has a viable case is for an attorney or
the court to determine. If your landlord has a valid complaint he will
be able prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are responsible for
the missing equipment. Short of having actual physical evidence, the
testimony of a third party can, in some instances, be compelling
evidence and sway the court?s opinion. You will, of course, have an
opportunity to testify that the third roommate is acting collusion
with the landlord against you and the two of them are somehow
conspiring to take advantage of this situation. The court will take
both issues into consideration when determining the weight of the
evidence. The fact remains that ANYONE at ANY TIME can take someone to
court (criminally or civilly) for just about any claim, based on a
complaint or accusation alone. That doesn?t automatically make the
complaint valid nor does it automatically make the case viable.
One other thing before we begin to address your questions: The
responsibility burden to read the lease a written lease or and ask
questions about a verbal lease lies with the tenant. If you had no
written agreement or did not clarify the terms of the verbal lease
agreement, the arrangement is considered an "at will" agreement. This
means that the tenant is afforded minimum protection regarding notice
for the lease's duration and other issues. In essence, in this
situation you may have fewer rights and lesser legal recourse.
Now for your other questions:
?Does he have a valid case for the keys and can the apartment complex
charge me even though I do not have a lease (he claims that he is the
lessor and that he will take me to small claims court).? I did leave
the keys on the counter before I left.
Under North Carolina tenant laws you can be charged a fee for failing
to return the keys. If you returned the keys, you would probably need
to provide proof to this effect (a dated receipt, release, termination
agreement. etc.) in order to effectively dispute this allegation.
?Can he charge me for cleaning the apartment??
Under North Carolina tenant laws you can be charged a fee for cleaning
upon moving out. Again, in order to dispute this fee you should
probably be prepared to show that the apartment was clean on your
departure (by way of a dated receipt, release, termination agreement.
etc.) or be able to prove that any unclean circumstances or damages
were already present on your initial arrival. It may also be
compelling if you showed that the landlord did not require the
previous tenant to pay a cleaning fee on his departure and that you
essentially inherited the former roommate?s wear and tear.
?I did not have a lease and moved in one day after he kicked out a
Under North Carolina tenant laws a verbal lease agreement is binding.
The absence of a lease is considered an "at will" arrangement.
?Can he charge me for the removal of items (he claims I left my bed
behind, but I've moved in with my parents and have my bed at their
house)? I've been out of the apartment for over a month and have no
control over what happened to the keys, the cleaning, what material
has been brought into the apartment.?
?What is his burden of proof in each situation? What should be my
response and how should I go about getting my T.V??
The burden of proof is very different in a criminal case than in a
civil case. The issue about the property left behind, the cleaning and
keys are civil while the issue about the modem is criminal. In a civil
case the burden of proof hinges largely the weight of testimony.
?42-61. Standard of proof.
The civil causes of action established in this Article shall be proved
by a preponderance of the evidence, except as otherwise expressly
provided in G.S. 42-64.?
Under North Carolina tenant laws a tenant has 10 days to remove
personal items. If you posted a deposit, by law, the landlord has 30
days from the move out date to return the deposit. At the end of the
prescribed period (42-25.9 NC Tenant Law), the landlord may ?deliver
the property into the custody of a nonprofit organization regularly
providing free or at a nominal price clothing and household
furnishings to people in need, upon that organization agreeing to
identify and separately store the property for 30 days and to release
the property to the tenant at no charge within the 30-day period.?
(You should read this statute in it?s entirety because there are also
certain criteria and requirements the landlord must meet and fulfill
in order to make this action legal under North Carolina Tenant Law)
Tenants have the right to take legal action against landlords if they
believe their rights have been violated. You can always take your
former landlord to small claims court; the cost is roughly $50. For
an appeal of the small claims finding, assuming the court finds in
your former landlord?s favor, the cost is about $60. These fees can
be waived if the tenant is indigent. Under NC Tenant Law 42-70
(Discovery) a tenant has the right to know what evidence or testimony
the landlord will present against him at trial and you will be
required only to establish a defense against the known claims.
Bottom line: the landlord can sue you or charge you criminally for any
actions for which he has a substantially reasonable complaint. Whether
he will win his case or not remains to be seen based on the evidence
and testimony. His legal pursuit of you will not be easy though he
?can? do it if he is determined to do so (and not necessarily win
perhaps, but cause you significant grief). On the other hand, unless
you too are willing to take ?him? to court, you can probably kiss your
TV goodbye and consider this a small price to pay in order to wash
your hands of this whole affair.
I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher
NORTH CAROLINA TENANT LAW
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