Can my landlord keep my “damage deposit” if there is no damage to the property, no lease agreement or specified timeline for giving notice to vacate?

I decided to rent a room while on a work assignment. I moved in about 2 weeks ago without a lease, without a guaranteed move out date or a specified deadline to give notice to move out. My landlord is refusing to give me back my “damage deposit” which is equal to the room rental and there isn’t damage to the room.

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your damage deposit can be anything, it can even be considered a security deposit. While you feel there is no damage, your landlord will have to provide you by state law an accounting within a certain very limited amount of time. That accounting will need to show how much you deposited, how much was used for cleaning and or repair (and it must be accompanied by receipts or invoices). If you feel you rented a room and you are owed the money, you need to contact the consumer protection agency in your state that handles or accepts landlord tenant complaints. Also call the building and safety department in the same city because that room may not be a legally rentable space or have a certificate of occupancy to rent out. Further, the fact you did not have a lease agreement in writing speaks volumes about the fact this transaction may have been illegal.

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