Jan 23

There is a discussion over on theApartment Association email discussion group about sending deposit letters via email.

I would be careful with creative methods of returning deposits or sending notice to tenants. The law is ATCP 134.06(2) Returning security deposits. A landlord shall deliver or mail to a tenant… “ and §704.28(4) Timing for return. A landlord shall deliver or mail to a tenant the …” Email is not in there.

The risk of being on the cutting edge is suffering large legal costs even if you are right. Below is a Wisconsin case that an owner had to take to the Court of Appeals in part because he sent the deposit letter via FedEx. The trail court ruled that FedEx was not mail and therefore the owner was liable for double deposit and attorney fees.

KIDD (Landlord) v. MCMASTER (Tenant)

“DYKMAN, J.[1] Michael Kidd appeals from a judgment awarding Dianna L. McMaster $18,029.93. He contends the trial court erred by finding that Federal Express is not a statutorily approved method of transporting a security deposit to a tenant under WIS. ADMIN. CODE § ATCP 134.06(2)(a).

The majority of the judgement, $15,171.69 was “reasonable attorney fees .” I’ll assume the rest was double deposit. The landlord won on appeal, but at what cost?

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