Attorney General Ellison wins relief for tenants whose landlord unlawfully withheld amounts from security deposits
Housing Hub to pay $63,000, stop charging tenants for carpet cleaning, replacing batteries, lightbulbs, and filters at move out
AG’s office will use the funds to refund tenants
March 13, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has settled with a St. Paul-based property management company that illegally withheld amounts from tenants’ security deposits. The settlement requires the company to provide refunds to its tenants and change its security deposit retention practices to comply with the law.
Under Minnesota law, landlords can withhold from security deposits only amounts reasonably necessary “to restore the premises to their condition at the commencement of the tenancy, ordinary wear and tear excepted.” Instead, Housing Hub charged tenants (by withholding amounts from their security deposits) for items that needed to be replaced due to a tenant’s ordinary use of the home. For instance, Housing Hub systematically charged tenants for professional carpet cleaning upon move-out even if the carpet’s condition was not damaged beyond normal use. Additionally, Housing Hub charged tenants to replace smoke-detector batteries, lightbulbs, and furnace filters, which are all routine turn-over costs that Minnesota law prohibits landlords from shifting onto their departing tenants. Housing Hub also told tenants they were “required to leave the property in its original condition,” and were required to take apart and clean their windows, stoves, vents, and light fixtures in order to obtain their security deposit back without deductions.
The Settlement, filed in Ramsey County District Court, requires Housing Hub to pay the State $63,000, which the Attorney General’s Office will use to provide restitution to the company’s tenants who were illegally charged for carpet cleaning, and/or replacing batteries, lightbulbs, or filters. Among other things, the settlement also requires Housing Hub to remove from its lease provisions requiring tenants obtain or pay for professional carpet cleaning, and to stop charging tenants for batteries, lightbulbs, or filters. Housing Hub may only charge for damage to the home that rises beyond ordinary wear and tear. Additionally, if Housing Hub withholds amounts from tenants’ security deposits for cleaning, the settlement also requires Housing Hub to provide tenants with evidence that the unit required professional cleaning to restore it to its original condition, ordinary wear and tear excepted.
“Having a safe, affordable roof over your head is essential to living with safety, dignity, and respect,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Part of that is landlords following the law and returning tenants their security deposits. I am pleased that Housing Hub has agreed to refund its tenants and change its security deposit practices going forward.”
Attorney General Ellison encourages any tenants—not just Housing Hub tenants—who have had amounts withheld from their security deposits for normal wear and tear to contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office by filling out the dedicated Tenant Report Form on the Attorney General’s website. Minnesotans can also report violations by calling Attorney General Ellison’s office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro) or (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).