Calling all ex-tenants
November 20, 2009 12:32 PM   Subscribe

How can I track down former residents of a specific apartment complex?

I recently moved out of Remington Grove Apartments in Sunnyvale, CA. The landlord kept a ridiculous amount of my security deposit and is threatening to charge me for much more. I managed to contact a few other ex-tenants, and it sounds like many of them received the same bogus estimates and threatening letters.

We spoke with a lawyer who said she would like to hear from as many former tenants as possible and would consider representing a class action case if there is enough evidence. Unfortunately, I don't know how to track down other former residents. The few that I managed to contact posted email addresses on an apartment review website, but I suspect many other residents of the complex may not be especially internet-savvy. Any ideas?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have access to a service like Lexis, you could do a search by the address of the apartment building. You wouldn't get everyone, but you'd probably get a lot of names that way, which you could then use to track their current address.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 12:38 PM on November 20, 2009

I have no idea how legal or above the board this would be, but you could always go door to door and ask the current residents if they have any misaddressed mail they haven't returned to sender yet. I know the previous two tenants' names simply because I still get their mail...
posted by cgg at 12:41 PM on November 20, 2009

Talk to your lawyer again. Ask her if she could write a demand letter. If she takes the case, this is something she could probably get from the landlord during discovery.
posted by motsque at 12:53 PM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

motsque has it. Discovery is awesome. An awesome pain in the neck, that is, if you're on the receiving end of discovery requests.

Seriously, if you decide to make an issue about this, your lawyer can demand that the landlord turn over a list of all present and former tenants, and your landlord has to turn it over.

Sounds like your lawyer is trying to get you to do a little of her homework for her, which isn't surprising considering we aren't talking about all that much money. Here's the thing: we're talking about a few hundred bucks at most, right? Getting to the point that such a demand could be entered will take a few hours of her time, and that could easily cost a thousand bucks ($100-150 an hour is pretty standard for lawyers on this level). Which means you aren't willing to pay her hourly rate, because it's more than you've lost, and she isn't willing to take this on contingency, i.e. she doesn't bill hours but gets a third of the award, because a third of not much is even less. She'll be more willing to do this if she gets the impression that there are enough people with similar claims to make it worth her time.

I'd say that if you can track down half a dozen people with a similar story, there's a good chance that she'll be willing to take a risk here. If you can find half a dozen people just by hoofing it old-school, she'll be able to find the vast majority of them using discovery methods.
posted by valkyryn at 1:16 PM on November 20, 2009

The page for that building may have some clues, along with suggestions of other underhanded dealings by the owners. I see the word "lawyer" many times on that page.
posted by arco at 1:22 PM on November 20, 2009

(okay, so maybe not the word "lawyer," but many suggestions of other legal actions against the complex.)
posted by arco at 1:23 PM on November 20, 2009,%2BCA&gl=us&view=feature&mcsrc=detailed_reviews&num=10&start=0

Is there any way to track down some of these people? There see to be a lot of similar complaints.
Google Reviews
posted by SLC Mom at 2:19 PM on November 20, 2009

Shoot, that was messy.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:19 PM on November 20, 2009

Print reverse phone books exist. I've had access to several at newspapers I've worked at, and maybe a decent library system will have them as well. They're sorted by town, then street, then street number, then name of resident. If you can track down a few of these for recent years, you should be able to get the names of anyone with a land line.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:41 PM on November 20, 2009

This will bring a few (100) names. I can't tell if they are current or former residents though.
posted by Acacia at 11:39 PM on November 20, 2009

croutonsupafreak has it - I believe they're called directories. Your library or city archives should have a copy for every year back to who knows when. or maybe it's just a canadian thing?
sometimes they even list occupation! wee!
posted by bellbellbell at 1:43 AM on November 21, 2009

If you know some other current/former residents, surely they must have others that they have kept track of who aren't part of your original circle? Friends of friends are your friends, and you shouldn't feel shy to ask for their contact information or an introduction.
posted by whatzit at 7:33 AM on November 21, 2009

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