Who sets the rules about 'ordinary wear and tear'?

  • Article by: KELLY KLEIN: RENTING and THE LAW
  • Updated: February 3, 2007 - 6:30 AM

Q What does Minnesota law consider ordinary wear and tear?

Q What does Minnesota law consider ordinary wear and tear?

Can the landlord require the tenant to remove the windows and wash them on the outside and inside or have money deducted from the security deposit?

Who is responsible for preparing the apartment for the next tenant?

Is dust on the top of cabinets considered "ordinary" wear and tear?

Is grease on cabinets considered "ordinary" wear and tear?

A You have a duty to leave your apartment clean, but the landlord has the duty to get it ready and available for the next tenant.

The law is intentionally vague in this area because both the tenant and the landlord have a duty.

What Minnesota law considers "ordinary wear and tear" varies according to each case.

Cleaning the inside of your unit's windows would typically be considered the tenant's duty. Cleaning the outside of the windows would typically be your landlord's duty.

Dust on the top of cabinets is not ordinary wear and tear and you should clean it.

Your question regarding the grease depends on whether the grease is permanent.

Did you cause the grease marks or were they there when you moved in and you are unable to remove them? It would be your responsibility to clean the grease on the cupboards if you were responsible for putting it there.

The appliances may be impossible to get completely clean if they are old. That would be considered ordinary wear and tear and you would not be responsible for marks that cannot be removed from the old appliances.

The landlord is usually responsible for moving the appliances and cleaning underneath and behind them.

It is legal for a landlord to request you to clean, and there is no set amount a landlord can deduct for your failure to clean to the landlord's expectations. But if you feel your landlord has deducted too much, your only option is to file an action in conciliation court to get your security deposit refunded.

What helps many tenants get their security deposit back is if they have pictures of the condition of the unit when they arrived and the condition they are leaving it in.

If you do have pictures, bring them to court along with any other documents you have that can help your case, such as receipts for new items you purchased for the unit that will remain in the unit when you leave.

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