What to do about a security deposit if the lease states no pets and we now have found out that find the renter has a small dog?

Rented our house to a family; lease ended 3 months ago. No pets allowed in original contract. They asked for an extension.Found out this week they have a small dog. There was never a different contract for the extensions. What do we do about the security deposit when we do not know what it has done to the carpets?

Asked on September 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Here is the law in Minnesota:

"A landlord must return a tenant’s security deposit plus simple, non-compounded interest, (141) or give the tenant a written explanation as to why the deposit (or any part of the deposit) will not be returned. The landlord must do this within 21 days after the day the tenancy ends, provided that the tenant has given the landlord a forwarding address. 

If the landlord does not return the deposit or return an explanation in the time allowed, the landlord must pay the tenant a penalty equal to the amount withheld and interest and also pay the tenant the amount of the deposit and interest wrongfully withheld. 

Minnesota law allows a landlord to withhold from a security deposit only the amount necessary for unpaid rent , damages to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear, or other money the tenant owes to the landlord under an agreement (e.g. water bills)."

The dog ruining the carpets is not only beyond ordinary wear and tear but a breach of the lease contract.  You allowed them to stay beyond the lease agreement but that has no effect on the terms - no dogs.  It is assumed that the same terms are in effect month to month.  So do what you need to do with the carpets but make sure you follow the law as to the notice.  If they sue you counter sue for the the damage.  Good luck. 


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