Renter fears fees if lawsuit fails

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Q: I'm an African-American and a tenant at our small apartment complex. I believe my landlord has discriminated against me in several ways, including giving only me a rent hike (yet many other tenants paid the same rent for the same kind of unit), and refusing to upgrade my kitchen when he refurbished all of the other units on this floor. I want to pursue this, but I am afraid that if I lose, I'll have to pay the landlord's court costs, which I cannot afford. Is there any way I can check out my rights without this risk? --Luther L. A: Lots of people assume that when someone loses a lawsuit, he or she automatically gets stuck with the winner's attorney fees and costs. Not so. Losers pay the winner's fees and costs only in two kinds of situations: When the lawsuit is over the meaning or implementation of a contract that specifies "loser pays." Many leases have such clauses, and many write the clause one-way, specifying that a victorious landlord will collect from a ...