I have been using a couple websites including caltenantlaw.com (which is quite helpful, with information about stuff including that late fees in excess of the actual cost to landlords are illegal even if included in the lease; and, that "split utilities" between different units is also against the law - not applicable to renting a room/shared housing). But, we have definitely gotten to the point that we need an actual person (lawyer) helping us.
Trouble is, we're pretty poor (otherwise we probably wouldn't have rented the place that is causing the situation), the lease has a clause stating we're responsible for our own court/legal fees in case of dispute (still researching whether this is valid) and the amounts we're dealing with are *relatively* small (under $5k total, possibly in the $2-3k range); we've already had one lawyer tell us he wouldn't take the case for those reasons.
Wondering if anyone here has experience with a (low cost) lawyer with experience in tenant law they would recommend? Alternately, people you would recommend against? We're in Oakland...