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Q: I needed a place to live for a short period of time so I decided to rent a carriage house in Minneapolis for six months. I signed a lease and paid a $3,000 security deposit to my landlord, who is the owner of the home.

The owner is living in Mexico this winter and wasn't available for a walkthrough, but had someone give me the keys. I was told the kitchen cupboards would be available for my use but there were some dishes still in there when I moved in. When I went to grab one of my glasses out of the cupboard, it was too close to the edge due to all his dishes still in there, and it fell onto the granite countertop, leaving a mark.

I called the landlord and told him about it, and sent him a photo of the mark on the countertop. He told me to hire someone to repair it, which I did, and he seemed to approve the fix since I also sent him a photo of the repair. I covered the cost of the repair and we moved on from the incident.

During a conversation we were having recently, the owner indicated he had spent a lot of money fixing up the carriage house to rent it out and was upset that the countertop had to be repaired and wasn't perfect anymore. His statement worried me and I started thinking he might try to keep my $3,000 security deposit to put toward a new countertop.

I called the city just to see if he had a rental license, and the city said he did for the main house but not for the carriage house I was renting. The city informed me the carriage house also needs to have its own rental license. I mentioned this to him in a recent phone conversation, and he believed the main house rental license covered the carriage house also, and got very defensive.

What should I do about making sure I get my $3,000 security deposit back?

A: Minnesota law states the landlord has 21 days after the tenancy terminates, and the tenant has provided a forwarding address, to mail the tenant their security deposit back or a letter explaining why the landlord is keeping some or all of the deposit.

The landlord is allowed to make deductions from a security deposit for any debt still owed by the tenant, such as unpaid rent or a utility bill, or for any damages to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear. It looks like you made the necessary repair to the countertop your landlord recommended, and he approved the fix from the photo you sent him, so I would not worry about the return of your security deposit until your lease ends.

If your landlord keeps your security deposit after your lease ends because of the countertop damage, you should then file a conciliation court claim in the county where the rental unit is located, which is Hennepin County since your rental home is in Minneapolis. In that action you should attach any evidence supporting your claim, such as photos of the repaired countertop and any e-mail or text message your landlord sent you approving the repair.

You should also include any additional information to help support your claim, such as the landlord not having a rental license for the home.

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 Information provided by readers is not confidential.