Q: Can I get a free consultation?

A: Yes. Call and you will speak with Nicholas Tepper. The purpose of that consult is to determine what your problem is and if TLF can help.

Q: Can I come into your office and speak with you?

A: Yes. Many times a client's problems can be solved by coming into the office and meeting with Nicholas Tepper face to face. A minimum fee of $325 is charged for up to an hour's time for such meetings. That fee is applied to any additional retainer should you need more help.

Q: How much will it cost?

A. First, please check out the Fees & Costs page. Nicholas Tepper bills out at $325 per hour and his associates bill out at $225 per hour. We do many projects on a flat fee basis.

Q: Do you take cases on contingency?

A: Sometimes. The case generally has to be a very good one for TLF to take it as a contingency. For the most part, though, TLF works on a strictly hourly basis.

Q: How long will it take?

A: We do not know. Most civil lawsuits take more than one year to get to trial. Usually TLF gets them in a position to settle within six months. However, every case is different. Transactional things (like drafting a trust, a lease, a contract for sale, etc.) can be set to a more exact schedule. But TLF's work is not done in a vacuum. We will need your help and input into everything we do. After all, it is your case. So if you take two days to respond to an email that is one day longer for your case. TLF prides itself on getting things done as quickly as possible.

Q: Can I pay by credit card?

A: Yes.

Q: Can I pay over time?

A: We will try to work with you. We usually require at least 50% of any retainer to get started.

Q: What is the difference between a limited jurisdiction case and unlimited jurisdiction.

A: Money. Limited jurisdiction is for cases involving less than $25,000 in dispute. Those case have much less discovery and go to trial much quicker. Unlimited involves cases of more than $25,000, has essentially unlimited discovery and take much longer to go to trial.

Q: What is a small claims case?

A: A small claims case is one involving less than $7,500 in dispute. You need to fill out a Plaintiffs Claim to initiate such a case. Lawyers are not allowed to represent either plaintiffs or defendants in a small claims case. However, if the judgment is appealed, a lawyer is permitted to represent either party.

Q: How long does an eviction take?

A: It all depends. But if the defendant files an answer and the case goes to trial it could be between four to eight weeks before the sheriff actually puts the tenant out of the dwelling.

Q: Can I break my lease?

A: Of course. A lease is just a contract and anyone is permitted to breach or "break" a contract if they want. However, there can be consequences. If you leave your place before the lease is up you are liable for the balance of the rent owing until the lease is done. The landlord must try to mitigate his damages, though. This means as soon as you leave the landlord must try to lease your old place to another new tenant for as much as or more than you were renting it for. When he does then you are off the hook. Until he does, though, you are still responsible to the landlord for payment of the rent.

Q: I am renting a place that was lost to foreclosure or is about to be lost to foreclosure. What should I do?

A: The answer depends on what you want to have happen. Often people/banks who buy/take over properties lost in foreclosure will offer "cash for keys". But new laws give renters broader rights, including the right to finish their lease term and the right to longer notice. It can be a complicated situation and TLF's advice is to call us to talk about it before doing or signing anything with the new property owner. Check out this blog post for a more detailed explanation of the some of the factors, questions and answers.

Q: CanTLF hepl me avoid foreclosure?

A: No. We don't do that. But we can help you deal with consequences. Check out this blog post for some more information.

Q: What is rent control?

A: Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica are three of the very few cities in the United States with rent control. Rent control is a way for these cities to control the amount of rent and rent increases paid by tenants as well as delineating the rights of both owners and tenants involving a very wide range of issues. Once you sign a lease in a rent controlled jurisdiction the landlord cannot evict you for any reason other than cause (not paying your rent, conducting illegal activities, being a nuisance, etc.). If there was no rent control then the landlord could simply ask you to leave at the expiration of the lease term, e.g. after one year, for no reason other than they want to get the apartment back. Also, rent control limits the amount of rent increase a landlord is permitted to implement each year. These amounts, usually between 1% and 3% annually, are set by the City.

Q: What are relocation fees:

A: Relocation fees is money paid by the landlord to the tenant under special circumstances. For example, a landlord can evict a tenant in a rent controlled jurisdiction if the landlord or someone in his immediate family is going to live in your apartment. In that case the law dictates that the tenant must move but, as compensation, the landlord must pay the tenant relocation fees. The amounts of the fees depends on the jurisdiction, the age of the tenants and how long they have lived in the apartment.

Q: Can I represent myself?

A: A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. You can try but eventually you will come back. Save your time and your money and let a professional help. There are many reasons lawyers can charge the fees they charge. This is not easy stuff. The odds are if you represent yourself your chances of success are diminished by at least 90% than if you had hired an attorney. Do not do it unless it's a small claims case.