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Residential Property Management/security deposit being used to replace kitchen counter-top


pic 2 ctop
pic 2 ctop  
pic 1-counter top
pic 1-counter top  

This is for state of MN.
I had a walk thr' with the manager of our apt. complex. That time she told me that she doesnt like some spots on the counter top(near the sink).
My story:
These spots are not due to the fact that i did not clean them regularly. It is a cheap counter-top. My guess would be Formica. When we moved-in , it had scratches(which is mentioned on our move-in) sheet. I think that this particular material -formica doesn't take well to cast-irons. Now its not burnt, as I have not put hot cast-iron pot on it. It's just that both materials dont work well together.
Now I am not an expert on it, and would need some expert from a shop to prove that, I guess. or is there a way?

I am suppose to get my deposit back within 21 days, but I got it on 22nd date, though  the stamp on the letter is 20th.(So can I sue her for this while making my case??)But the check for remaining deposit is dated 5 days prior to that.

When we signed on the move-out sheet, she hadn't written the charges, and said that would be added later.

She also sneaked in a charge for "hallway mess". She did not mention that during our move-out walk.

We had movers and so I personally checked the stairs, and there was no mess,stains,damages. So I know she's lying.

I have taken lot of pics of my apt. but I did not take any hallway pics!
Besides, it's an apt. , and many ppl were moving out, so I dont know what she's talking about.

Charging: kitchn counter-top +labor
        and hallway mess.
My question:

Can this be taken to small courts? I feel that the tops were very functional. Besides, shouldn't it be pro-rated? How much can she charge for labor? I saw a match for it at menards, and can it be replaced in parts? The one I saw had a warranty of 1 yr, so I have lived there for 5 yrs, and it wasn't new at the time either.

Please advice . What would be the time frame to take her to small court, and what's the proper way? what docs should I have.

ANSWER: I'm not an attorney so I can't give legal advice, nor am I familiar with the real estate regulations in your state. Having said that, yes -- you can file a case in small claims court. You will of course need to be prepared with as much evidence as you can to prove your case (pictures, documents, etc).

Formica, although an inexpensive material, is usually quite impervious to most things (other than high heat, acid, etc). I can't tell what those stains might be from in the pictures. The landlord can deduct for damages that are outside of normal wear and tear. If the countertop needs to be replaced, and if this is not classified as normal wear and tear, I'm not sure if there's a requirement in your state to prorate the repair costs.

As for the 21 days thing, I'm not sure you would make much progress on that, since it seems to have been mailed within the allotted time period 9assuming it is 21 days in your state).

I recommend writing a letter (not phone calls or texts, something that is officially documented) to the landlord first with your complaints, and if you're not able to work it out, then file a case in small claims court and let a judge decide.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your ans. Is there anyone on thi forum who could ans. my qs. specific to my state? Or can I get legal advice here?

So you don't think this could pass as wear n tear? Also, it doesn't mention pro-rate in my state, nor does it mention NOT to pro-rate, so isn't that gray area, which could be decided by the judge?
What is the life-span for formica, as that is also considered.

How can i prove about the hallways?
should i go n take pics of it now??

Doesn't the burden to prove that I did damage rest on the manager? Isn't she reqd, by law to let me know that in the walk thr'??

I have no idea whether there are experts from your state on this site. I only volunteer my time, I do not run the site. There may be a legal section as well.

I never said it didn't classify as wear and tear. I offered advice IF it didn't, and suggested to let a judge decide if you and the landlord can't come to an agreement.

I suppose you can check with the manufacturer or formica to determine what its useful life is. I've seen countertops in good condition for 20+ years. But there still may be an obligate to prorate -- that may be for a judge to decide as the topic of whether or not it was adequately maintained will probably come into play.

If it gets to court, both parties will have the burden of proof to prove their claims. The PM should have pictures of everything upon your move-in, and at move-out. I usually recommend tenants do the same. If you don't have before and after photos of the counter and the hallway, then you may have a tough time, although the PM will still need to show evidence to allow for the security deposit deductions.

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Mike Fortunato


Very familiar with all aspects of property management (tenant/landlord issues, lease administration, facilities maintenance, financials, etc). 25+ years in property management


I have been in real estate management for 25+ years, both residential and commercial properties. Currently own and operate a commercial and residential real estate management company in southern California.

IREM; BOMA; MLS; National Association of Realtors; California Association of Realtors

CPM (Certified Property Manager) and RPA (Real Property Administrator)

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