Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in Minnesota

Hello, here's a timeline of my full, complicated story:

09/01/05 - I moved into an apartment. On the (signed) move in report I note that the carpet has minor staining and that the front closet smelled of urine.

04/30/10 - Moved out of apartment.

05/08/10 - Received letter that they needed more time to find out how much damages would cost.

05/09/10 - 10/01/10: I did not hear anything from the apartment

10/01/10 - I Called about my security deposit and was told that I would be receiving somethingi n the mail

10/18/10 - I received an invoice that said we owed $691 (the charges were broken down, to an extent). This includes $591 for carpet replacement. The charge for the carpet is my primary issue. The invoice was inaccurate in that it said we had only paid $200 for a security deposit when we actually paid $400. Additionally the invoice stated that we lived there for 3 years and 11 months; we actually lived there for 4 years and 8 months.

10/20/10 - I called the apartment and talked about the charges. They (Deb), agreed that the security deposit amount listed on the original invoice was inaccurate (it should have been $400 + interest, but was listed at $200), and that he carpet should be prorated and additional 9 months.

10/24/10 - I received an updated invoice with the correct security deposit (plus interest) listed, but the amount I owed for the carpet had not changed.

10/27/10 - I called again, asking why the charge for the carpet had not changed, and I was informed that this was the actual amount that I owed. I asked for a copy of their carpet prorate policy, and was told that they do not have one, despite being told conflicting information during the move out inspection. I asked how they came up with the amount that I owed and was told that they could have charged me for the total cost, but chose to charge we what they did because they were being nice. I told her that the check in form notes the carpet was already damaged when we moved in and asked how that affected my cost, but was told that since I was responsible for the damage that warranted carpet replacement, I was responsible for the charges. I then asked her what the life expectancy of the carpet was, and was told that they don't have a life expectancy on their carpet. I then asked hypothetically that if I had lived there for 15 years, would I still be responsible for carpet replacement. I was told that if the carpet had to be replaced, then yes, I would be responsible. I asked if the carpet wouldn't be replaced anyway after 15 years and was told that no, it would not necessarily be replaced just because it was 15 years old.

At this point I'm wondering if the law was broken. If they can legitimately do what they are doing, then I will probably pay them as opposed to going to small claims court. If they broke the law however, I would consider taking legal action.

This management for the apartment had never impressed me and changed very often (the current manager is brand new). I personally think that they forgot all about me and my secuity deposit, pulled up my file when I called to complain, and haphazardly picked an amout I should pay.

Thank you for your help.

Asked on 10/27/10, 2:14 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Cameron Kelly Cameron Kelly Law, LLC

Based solely on your description, I think you should pursue a claim for the return of your damage deposit from the landlord. In Minnesota there is a very limited amount of time that a landlord can take to return, and/or send you notice that your damage deposit is going to be applied towards damages. It appears from looking at your description that the time period was exceeded. I don't have all of the information that I would need to give a full opinion, but would be happy to discuss this with you on a free consultation basis.

Basically, the security deposit must be returned or used within three weeks. If it is used, a written statement must be provided to the tenant. The same time-frame applies to a written statement. The catch is that is only due three weeks after the receipt of the tenants mailing address and delivery restrict instructions. If the landlord was unaware of your address, he would not be at fault for missing the three-week time-frame. The penalty for not returning the damage deposit is that the landlord can be held liable for twice the amount of the damage deposit. the extra amount of that award could help to pay for an attorney the if you're not comfortable handling the suit on your own.

Cameron R Kelly


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Answered on 11/01/10, 2:48 pm

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