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Q I am currently working with an ex-tenant who believes he is entitled to a damage deposit refund. He left the unit a wreck, and it took a lot of time to get it to the place where I could start painting.

I have put about 15 hours into the cleaning of the apartment walls, carpet, bathroom, kitchen and garbage removal. This does not include the painting and other standard between-tenant maintenance, which is not charged against the damage deposit.

He is looking for an itemized list as to what cleaning was done.

So far, things are friendly and I would like to keep it that way with a solid list, which I have, and an understanding of the amount that I can charge for my time. I'm not looking to charge an astronomical amount.

How much can I reasonably charge per hour for my time and effort?

A Minnesota Statute 504B.178 says a landlord is required to return the damage deposit, with the appropriate interest, minus amounts owed to the landlord for rent or other such items or as reasonably necessary to return the unit to its condition at the beginning of the tenant's lease, ordinary wear and tear excepted. There is no dollar amount specified in this law.

However, the general rule of thumb is that labor cost is $40 to $70 per hour for repair work, and charges of $40 per hour for cleaning are usually approved by the courts.

Q I entered into a 12-month lease that spells out that we are required to give 60-days' notice before vacating the apartment.

My lease expires Aug. 31. My landlord has just sent a letter that says that we need to let him know by March 1 if we plan to renew our lease. Our lease says 60 days, not six months. Can he do this?

A Minnesota Statute 504B.145 covers the automatic renewal of leases. That statute permits a landlord to send the tenant a notice stating that the lease will be renewed only if the landlord gives the tenant notice, in writing, of intent to automatically renew the lease, at least 15 days but no more than 30 days before the time the tenant is required to give notice. This written notice must be served personally or sent certified mail.

In your case, it appears that the landlord wants to automatically renew your lease for another year, based on a notification at least six months in advance of the termination, and four months in advance of the notification period in the lease.

Without getting into the question as to whether a 60-day notice is enforceable, it does not appear that your landlord has followed the statute, and therefore may not require that you give notice of your intent to renew or not renew the lease.

Unfortunately, if you decide not to respond to the landlord, or tell the landlord "no," there is nothing that requires that the landlord continue renting to you after the lease has expired.

I think that if you like the place, but you are unsure if you want to commit to another year, you should tell the landlord your thoughts, and inform the landlord that you have not made up your mind.

If the landlord continues to press you, it may be a good idea to forward the landlord a copy of the statute. Make sure that you keep copies of all the communications. While you may not need them in the end, it is a good idea to have them all in one place so you can refer to them if necessary.

Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/ client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein.