Today we are talking about security deposits and the myriad of Local, State and Federal laws that are involved with rental properties. At 33rd Company®, we know the laws. Probably the biggest headache for Landlords is processing security deposit dispositions. In Minnesota, there are statutory timeframes and deadlines as well as regulatory concerns that must be carefully followed by landlords. When you want to withhold part of a tenant’s security deposit, you’ll need evidence that includes pictures, summaries and reports. Documentation is critical when you’re making a disposition stick. Many property owners don’t realize that state laws are favorable to tenants and if you go to court, the burden of evidence is put on the landlord, not the tenant. Most court cases in our experience usually reveal that the Landlord has violated the law, and there are penalties that may be applied for Landlords who do not strictly follow the statutes.
When you work with a property management company, you have access to professionals with a greater understanding of the laws, and how they are applied. Such issues as how to define normal wear and tear sounds easy, but with no case law, this issue can be interpreted directly in different court rooms. Case law would be at the appellate level or higher and come from a judge’s ruling. Without case law, district judges are making their own decisions on what wear and tear is, and that’s unfortunately variable. So having experience and good documentation is critical.
Security deposit disputes can be painful and lead to court action as well as judgments. Our goal as property management professionals is to make sure we have our documentation correct and our owners protected. If we go to court, we win. We have never lost a dispute at 33rd Company because we won’t go to court unless we have solid documentation that proves our case.
Rock solid leases will also protect you with issues you might encounter with security deposits. Your lease will clearly state what is expected and what the obligations of the tenant are at the time of move out. You can stipulate that you want the carpets cleaned and you can address other types of cleaning and remuneration. A well written lease will add to the legal solidity of your case if it goes to court.
33rd Company® has been successful with security deposit disputes because we are honest and ethical and we have excellent leases and documentation. Your goal is our goal – to succeed at taking care of your rental property and to maximize your cash flow.
If you have any questions or you need help with a specific security deposit issue, please contact us at 33rd Company, and we’d be happy to help you.