To the editor:
I recently became familiar with the issue of the legality of the return of a rented apartment security deposit. The Minnesota law relating to security deposits is set out in MS 504B.178. When a security deposit is involved, the law allows the landlord to retain the security deposit in only two cases:
1. There is a default in the payment of rent or funds due the landlord, or
2. To restore the premises to their condition at the commencement of the lease agreement.
The landlord must make the refund within 21 days after the day the tenancy ends. The landlord may not include language in the rental agreement that states any other condition for retaining the security deposit. Even if the landlord does include any other conditional language, it is not enforceable since it's not legal.
If you do not get your security deposit returned after ruling out the above two conditions, it's your right to file a County Small Claims Court case.
There is a filing fee of $70, but the landlord must reimburse also that filing fee when the judge rules the return of the security deposit to the tenant.
The judgment is to be paid back to the tenant within the required 20-day period following the date of the judgment.