Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Minnesota

My ex roommate and I agreed on a lease agreement with discounted rent because of bad carpeting. We stayed there for 3 years and have gone our separate paths for the last 2 and a half years. I just got a letter in the mail from the lease management company where we rented. The letter says that we owe a little over two thousand dollars for having a bad carpet when we left and if we dont pay in 10 days they will take further steps. What should we do?

Asked on 1/03/11, 2:29 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Cameron Kelly Cameron Kelly Law, LLC
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I would respond to the management company that you had received discounted rent based on the condition of the carpet when you moved into the property. If you had a walk through before or after living in the property, and have the documentation from those, they might provide you with further evidence of what you are saying. Otherwise, look for any other evidence that might support your position, such as email correspondence, letters, notations regarding the condition in the lease or other documents.

It seems to me that the landlord has failed to take action within a reasonable time (although it is probably still within the statute of limitations to bring a claim). If this is brought to conciliation court, point out to the judge that 1) the carpet was in poor condition when you moved in, 2) it received no more than normal wear and tear while you were in the property, 3) that five years of wear have occurred since you moved in (and the carpet was not new at that point either), and 4) it is impossible for you to inspect the property or evaluate the claim, because such a long period of time has gone by since you moved.

As far as an immediate response, I would write a responsive letter to your landlord (keeping a copy for yourself) requesting copies of all evidence that it intends to use to prove its claim, including pictures, walk through documentation, lease agreement, etc. Assuming you do not receive an adequate response, you can use the letter later to show the conciliation court judge that you took steps to look into the issue, but that the claim was unsupported.

One other question I have is, what happened to your damage deposit. The landlord has a very limited time to return the deposit, and if it was returned without holding back money for the claimed damages, it might be considered a waiver by the landlord or as evidence that there wasn't substantial damage upon your move-out.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Cameron Kelly Law, LLC

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Answered on 1/08/11, 3:52 pm
David Anderson Mahoney Anderson LLC
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You should have an experienced attorney write a firm letter to the property management company to back off. They may be in in violation of MN and Federal law.

I have 30 years experience as a Landlord Tenant attorney, and I am a landlord.

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Answered on 1/08/11, 3:56 pm

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