Renting: Landlords can’t find former tenant to return deposit

American Apartment Owners Association - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 8:07am

Q: My husband and I own a duplex in Minneapolis, and we have a tenant who moved out in July 2017. We mailed her refund for her security deposit to the forwarding address she gave us. A few weeks later, she followed up with us to tell us she never received the check. We canceled that check, figuring it was lost in the mail and proceeded to send a new check. However, this time we sent the check by certified mail in order to track the mailing. That letter was ultimately returned to us; the receipt stated that no one at the address was available to sign for the envelope. We heard nothing more about this matter until January, when she reached out to us again, asking when she would receive her security deposit. The next day, we sent another check by certified mail to the same address. On the second attempted delivery (which we scheduled through USPS with the day and time the renter supplied us) the certified letter still has not been delivered. It is being held at the post office. Since this has cost us money to send two certified mailings, as well as to cancel the original check, we are at a loss on how to proceed. Have we fulfilled the legal requirement in Minnesota in attempting to return our tenant’s security deposit?

A: In Minnesota, the law requires the landlord to send the deposit or a letter outlining why part or all of the deposit has been withheld. Ordinarily, the tenant informs the landlord of their new address or the landlord sends the deposit to the tenant’s last known address, and the deposit is forwarded along with the remainder of the tenant’s mail. A tenant can legally use a work address, a relative’s address or a post office box. In your case, your tenant has given you a mailing address, but is not picking up the certified mail. Her failure to pick up her mail is not your fault, and you have gone beyond the legal requirements for returning her security deposit. When you pick up the certified letter after delivery has been refused, simply hold onto it as proof that you sent it. If the tenant calls you again, you may tell her that you have more than complied with the law and that if she wants her deposit she can come and pick it up. At that time, you can issue her a new check or give her the old one, but have her sign a receipt acknowledging that she has received the deposit and that you have complied with your duty to send it.

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, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.



The post Renting: Landlords can’t find former tenant to return deposit appeared first on AAOA.

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Landlords Win Appeal in San Francisco Rental Market Fight

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 4:02pm

(CN) – A California appeals court reversed a lower court decision with implications for the property rights of landlords in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The California First Appellate District ruled in favor of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute, which argued that San Francisco’s law requiring landlords to wait ten years after evicting tenants before improving their property was illegal.

“The ordinance in SFAA rather than regulating the particulars of a landlord’s proposed merger of a residential unit prohibits a landlord withdrawing a residential unit from the rental market from merging the unit with another unit for 10 years,” the three-judge panel wrote. “In doing so, the ordinance imposes a penalty on the very class entitled to protection under the Ellis Act—to wit, landowners seeking to exit the residential rental business. As such, the ordinance is indeed invalid.”

The Ellis Act is a California law passed in 1985 allowing landlords to exit the rental market and improve their property, so long as they don’t put the property back on the market.

In the throes of a severe housing affordability crisis, San Francisco County Supervisor John Avalos sought to craft regulations to dissuade the owners of non- conforming rental units – typically more affordable – from exiting the market.

He came up with a ten-year waiting list with the hopes of reducing Ellis Act evictions.

The modification to the planning code passed unanimously in December 2013 without public comment.

The institute’s failure to protest the ordinance during the county’s administrative process was a major reason the lower court ruled against it during summary judgment.

However, the state appeals court found that the ordinance’s clear violation of existing state law was enough to prevent its implementation.

“We conclude that because it imposes a 10-year waiting period for alterations of properties that have been withdrawn from rental use under the Ellis Act, Planning Code section 181, subdivision (c)(3) conflicts with, and is preempted by, the Ellis Act,” the panel wrote.



The post Landlords Win Appeal in San Francisco Rental Market Fight appeared first on AAOA.

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