I've got a couple of questions about going through the small claims tribunal to get my deposit back. I'd be grateful if anyone who has done this or experienced being unfairly treated by their landlord could share their thoughts.
The basic situation is like this:
My agent inspected the apartment once I had moved out (twice actually) and returned the key to the landlord. (Yes I know trusting the agent and the landlord was my first big mistake). The landlord is refusing to refund my entire deposit and is not answering my messages. He wants the entire apartment redecorated, which includes removing all the paint from the walls, repainting them and the ceilings, and repolishing all the floors.
There is some paint missing from some of the walls which came off while I was washing the walls with bleach to remove mould (which the landlord told me to do). There are some additional marks on one wall made by tape (my helper stuck balloons on the wall for a party, sigh). There are some holes for IKEA shelves which my removal men filled in for me but didn't smooth over or paint over. There is one scratched stone tile. And there are some marks on the floor which appear to have been made by furniture (the table and the sofa) sitting on the floor for some time.
The landlord has refused me permission to have a handyman come in and repaint these things at my cost (although to be honest I am not sure just what the scope of fair wear and tear covers). He has not responded to my last two messages, and in the last one I said I would go to the small claims court to get my deposit back if he didn't respond by the end of this weekend.
I have considered employing a lawyer to help me file the claim but reading more about it I am beginning to think maybe I am capable of doing this myself (thereby saving 8,500+ that the lawyer is charging)
Some specific questions:
1) when I file, should I claim back my entire deposit, or should I claim for the amount back minus what I think I might have to offer to pay in the end?
2) do I need to get statements from witnesses etc before I file or can I wait until a later stage before doing this (because it's a hassle and the landlord might pay up once I have filed in the court anyway)
3) can anyone recommend any handymen who I could contact?
Thank you for any information or experiences you have to share.