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Unfair Small Claims Court Ruling (Calif.)

Posted by A. E. DuVal on May 23, 1996 at 09:05:35:

I'm writing on behalf of my nephew and his fiancee. They leased a large house and rented the extra bedrooms out. A few months ago, my nephew and his fiancee decided the house and shared living arrangement was inappropriate for them and they gave their share-renters ample notice that they would be moving. Arrangements with the landlord were made for one of their roommates to take over the lease. All this was done properly, proper notice given, all to everyone's
mutual agreement and consent. My nephew and his fiancee began moving out on the 13th of Feb. although their rent was paid up until March 1st. They were in their new home sooner than they had anticipated, but still wanted to retain use of their soon-to-be former residence (for storage purposes and ease of transition in moving). The roommate who took control of the lease began moving her personal belongings into my nephew's portion of the house on or about the 16th of Feb.
When my nephew and his fiancee discovered that their portion of the house was now occupied, they asked the roommate to refund them a prorated portion of their rent (12 days). She refused to give them back any money so my nephew and his fiancee tried to sue her in small claims court here in Santa Rosa, Ca. (The amount of unused rent was in excess of $250). When they had their day in court, much to their surprise, the judge (pro-tem) ruled against their claim for the remaining
portion of their rent. He even refused to examine the rental agreement. This judge's decision was delivered via mail (is this customary?), but no reasons for his ruling were returned with his decision. My nephew and his fiancee feel this to be unfair but have meager means to appeal this decision. Does anyone know if they have any other resources or place to turn? I'd certainly appreciate any ideas and I thank all of you for taking the time and patience to read this. Thank you!

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