California Tenant Law Kits
At first, a legal "kit" seems like an odd idea, but that's essentially what it is: the parts you need and instructions to put it together, so that you have the finished product that you did yourself. What you are buying is commonly known as an "e-book," a book in electronic format. You will immediately download to your computer after buying it, from the download page to which you will be directed after your purchase goes through. The Kits are in the common Adobe "PDF" format, so it you don't already have Adobe Reader to look at these kits in your computer [most computers come with it already installed], you can download and install this FREE program using the link below. It takes about 5 minutes altogether. Once you have it, you can fill out the forms on your computer and print them out your printer, save them on you computer, and altogether present a professional-looking set of papers.
Obviously, a Kit is not going to be the same as having a lawyer represent you and do the work for you, but for the benefits of money savings, or that ability to do it at all, a Kit is cost-effective. If you win, you win, and it doesn't matter if you had a lawyer. The result is the same. My clients on this site are intelligent laymen, mostly very comfortable with computers and these kinds of files, so it is very rare that I even get a question about the Kit. If there is a problem, and sometimes there is, please feel fee to contact me and I'll get that corrected. However, if you want to discuss your situation with me at the same time, you'll have to set up a consultation for that purpose.
All of these kits are available through the Shopping Cart for this site, to which you will next be directed. These first few are the pioneers, but there will be others as their need and popularity grow. Although the Kits are themselves designed to be independent of any legal assistance, you may still have questions and need to set up a consultation regarding particular situations or unforeseen events. You are not prevented from doing that, and in many cases, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even after 32 years of doing this, I still see the odd-ball situations occurring, and a simple Kit cannot possibly contemplate and address all of the thousands of combinations. Still, you should do perfectly well in the vast majority of cases just using the Kit.
Each of these kits includes whatever legal forms you may need, and some include other forms that may be helpful for you to organize and present your case. The law related to the issues is presented in a clear, straight-forward manner. I only use legal terms when they are important to know, and I explain what they are, so that you understand them. You won't be a lawyer by the time you're finished, but you'll know a lot more than you did before you started.
Basic Eviction Defense Kit - $20
Here is the bare-bones for eviction defense. The quack Paralegal Eviction Help services charge $500 to do just the Answer, and they still don't get it as correct as you will with this Kit. This 43-page Kit includes the official court forms for an Answer, Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession, Form Interrogatories, proof of service, and the initial Fee Waiver Application, as well as a Habitability Checklist to help you identify everything that is wrong with your rental unit. All of the most common defenses to an eviction are included, with clear explanations of how they apply to your situation. Filling out the Answer form is painstakingly explained in step-by-step format, so that you can be sure you've done it correctly. The other forms are pretty self-explanatory, and require less instruction. The advice and forms provided in this Kit would normally cost you about $600 for an attorney to explain and prepare for you. For only $20, this is the best bargain in the whole website. Everybody loves it.
As a bare bones approach, it is NOT going to get you months in possession, nor challenge all of the mistakes that a lawyer would be able to do. If you want to maximize your time in possession, this Kit is NOT going to get you more than a month, if you ultimately lose. If you win, and the landlord has to start over, it's a different game. Sometimes, just fighting the case can get you leverage to work out a settlement that gives you what you wanted in real terms, and which you would not have a chance for without putting up the fight. As tough as they talk up front, landlords do lose, and do buckle when it comes to trial and they're afraid you just might win.
Some of my clients get this Kit just to have the overall understanding of the eviction process in greater detail, and it helps them work with me in setting up their case. You may find it helpful for that purpose, even if you plan to have me guide you through the entire process, anyway.
Eviction Trial Kit - $100
You've heard the saying that the person who represents themselves has a fool for a client, but that's assuming you're walking in completely unprepared. A lawyer who represents himself is not a fool, nor is someone who has educated themselves about what to do and how to do it. That's the purpose of this Kit, a 33-page e-book, a crash-course on do-it-yourself trial work. An eviction trial is where the matter is finally decided, and it seems like a scary event at first. That's only because you don't know what to expect. Through this Kit, however, you learn exactly what is going to happen. You will learn how the trial occurs, step-by-step, including cross-examination of witnesses, picking a jury, presenting evidence, testifying, and making your closing argument. I can't teach you all the rules of evidence, and every detail, but you can get by well enough with the information provided here.
The Kit comes with the official court forms for requesting a jury fee waiver, and properly formatted Witness List, Exhibit List, statement to the Jury, and proposed jury instructions. You may need specialized attention as to those if the matter gets as far as the actual trial. The Kit includes questions to ask the jurors when picking the jury. It includes trial strategies and insights into dealing with the judge and opposing attorney. It explains how to prepare for trial, including making an outline of what you are going to say and show, setting up your evidence, and making the landlord's lawyer look like the unprepared one.
Now, the primary purpose of this Kit is to make you READY for trial. The landlord is hoping and expecting that you will be shaking in your boots on the day of trial, ready to buckle in fear and anxiety rather than face the terrifying event of a jury trial. However, when you get read this Kit and follow instructions, not only will you not be terrified, but you will walk into court with the confidence and preparation that scares the landlord and his lawyer. You will psych-out the landlord and his lawyer, who will be shocked that you are so prepared. You say, "here are my trial documents, where are yours?" and the landlord's lawyer doesn't have them, and is embarrassed in front of your landlord that he's the one unprepared. Rather than looking and acting like the victim, you are there to win. They can see it.
As the result, about 90% of the cases that go to trial with the tenant's preparation like this settle in the tenant's favor. If you only leave, in 30 or 60 days, you owe nothing, they will seal the record, waive all claims and be happy that they just got possession. That's why this Kit is a good investment. If the case goes to trial, it costs the landlord probably more than is at issue, and if he loses, he loses big time. If you lose, you did it without spending a fortune, and the landlord lost a lot more in real terms, plus you can still appeal it. My clients who got this Kit absolutely love it.
Deluxe Eviction Defense Kit - $120
As you already guessed, the Deluxe Eviction Kit is the 74-page combination of the Basic Kit and the Trial it. If you're on a tight time schedule and know you're going to doing this, one purchase gets you both, and you can plan in advance.
Security Deposit Recovery Kit - $50
This is far and away the most popular Kit for tenants. If landlords were not the political "sacred cows" that they are, their embezzlement of your security deposit would have them doing time in the Big House. Instead, you have to sue them, prove that they did wrong, and hopefully convince the judge to make them pay Bad Faith penalties of up to 200% of the deposit. This 65-page e-book takes you through all of the stages, from preparing to go through most of the collection of the judgment. All of the forms including the Small Claims Plaintiff's Claim, Judgment Debtor Examination forms to haul the landlord in after he loses and doesn't pay you, and proof of service form. In includes a sample demand letter, evidence checklist, helping finding the real owner to sue, and some organization ideas. The Kit exposes all of the Games Landlords Play to try to steal your money, and how to best address that. It is a sophisticated approach, designed to overwhelm your landlord and secure a victory in court.
There are additional Kits in progress and hopefully will be on line soon. One is for breaking a lease - how to do it, and come out on top. Another is for suing your landlord, either while you live there or after you move, other than for the security deposit.