Q When I moved out of my duplex in St. Paul, I contacted my landlord to schedule a walk-through so I could address any problems. He told me to leave the keys in the duplex and he would send me a letter listing any problems or containing a check for my deposit. He said he had 21 days under state law to do this. I left the place spotless, much better than when I moved in. It is now two weeks later, and I have heard nothing.
Is what he said true? What if something occurred after I moved out? Do I need to start pursuing this more aggressively?
A Under state law, your landlord must return your security deposit within 21 days after your lease terminates or send you a written statement showing the specific reasons for keeping your deposit or part of it. The landlord may withhold only an amount necessary to cover payment of rent or other funds owed to the landlord or to restore the place to its condition when your lease began, excluding ordinary wear and tear.
You were smart to request a walk-through. If something occurred after you moved out, you are not accountable for the damage, unless it was your negligence that caused it.
I wouldn't start pursuing this more aggressively yet, because it's too soon. Wait to see how much of your security deposit gets returned to you.
If you rent again, take pictures of the place when your lease starts and again when it ends so you have proof if you end up in court over a dispute regarding your security deposit.Noise creates problems
Q I have rented a unit for six months as part of a 12-month lease. Since I moved in, I haven't been able to sleep properly due to the noise level that comes through the walls and the ceiling. The ceilings are so thin that I hear every step the upstairs tenants take during the night. I was prescribed sleep medication, but the problem still exists.
What rights do I have when it comes to terminating my lease? I would like to avoid any bad marks on my rental history, and I would also like my damage deposit back.
A Talk to the tenants upstairs, and see if they can be quieter. If they are leaving for work during the night, it will be harder for them not to be walking around and making noise. You should also ask your landlord to speak to them to arrive at a solution that is satisfactory to everyone.
Under Minnesota Statute 504B.161, your landlord must make your apartment and all common areas fit for the use intended by the parties. Your apartment could be considered unfit for its intended use because you are unable to sleep at night.
You could request to move into a quieter unit within the apartment complex.
Although your landlord has a duty to resolve this problem and make your apartment livable, sometimes upstairs tenants have to work at night, and a court will consider this part and parcel of living in an apartment.
If you can't move apartments and the upstairs tenants can't reduce their noise, you should speak to your landlord about paying a few months' rent to terminate your lease early. If it's a desirable building, your landlord may be convinced to terminate your lease early for an extra month's worth of rent. Be sure to get any agreement you and your landlord make in writing and signed by both parties.
If you and your landlord can't arrive at a solution, you could file a rent escrow action as a last resort. To do that, you first need to send a letter to your landlord demanding that the tenants' noise during the night be remedied. You should date the letter, sign it and keep a copy for the court.
Under Statute 504B.385, your landlord has 14 days to fix the problem. If the problem remains, you can file the rent escrow action in Housing Court in the county where you live. The court might reduce your rent, order your landlord to solve the problem, terminate your lease or determine that this is something you have to live with.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.