I had to reimburse a housemate's security deposit, after he recently moved out of the house, as I had paid the deposit of the entire house and still living in the house. He is disputing the cleaning and repair charges deducted from his deposit. In his email he suggested taking this to court if I disagree with his request for a full refund. I feel I have no need to mutually agree to go to court. I believe I have enough proof to prove the charges are valid. If he decides to sue me , mostly in small claims court, is it possible for me to ask for compensation for time lost in fighting this case such as time taken off from work or any other kind of compensation. Perhaps through a defendant's claim? Does my winning or losing as a defendant to his case affect if I can claim or win any compensation

I or the rented property in question is in SF Bay Area (CA)

1 Answer 1


Typically these cannot be claimed as damages in small claims court. There is no specific information in the CA small claims court information that I can find, but as a typical example they cannot be recovered.

They can be recovered via personal injury cases (to the extent that the injury caused the lost wages, not the preparation for the case), but I'm not sure that type of recovery would fall under a small claims case.

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    Even in a PI case, litigant time spent engaged in the litigation process is not a recoverable item of damages. Other inconveniences caused by the injury might be, however.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 20:11
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    @ohwilleke Of course you're right, "lost wages" typically refers to wages lost as a result of the injury, which may include future earnings (or earning potential), but really doesn't mean the time for preparing the case.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 20:25
  • @ohwilleke and Ron - Thank you for the responses. "Other inconveniences caused by the injury might be, however." Is there anything I might be able to claim at all? Another thing that occurred to me is, I deducted the lowest estimate I received for the repairs to be fair to him. But if the repairs end up costing more than that I feel it will be impossible to recover that difference from him now. Can I ask for money in a counter claim / defendant's claim to cover upto the max estimate received ?
    – cipher20
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 22:19
  • You can get "out of pocket" litigation costs (e.g. filling fees, service of process fees, photocopies of exhibit notebooks and binders for them, statutory witness fees (typically equal to about the cost of lunch plus mileage to court), expert witness fees) if you prevail.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 22:23

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