Is there a statute of limitations on the collection of lease claims?

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Is there a statute of limitations on the collection of lease claims?

I moved from an apartment 4 years ago. My former landlord just sent letter 2 weeks ago listing what I owed; I sent reply listing what I didn’t owe. Monies due are for wear and tear/damage; no rent is owed. That was 4 years ago. I got a letter from my former landlord 2 weeks ago asking for payment. Is the landlord correct in demanding payment all these years later?

Asked on August 23, 2011 Minnesota


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

All states have statute of limitations setting a specific time period for when a lawsuit must be filed concerning a certain cause of action. In California the statute of limitations for breach of an oral contract is two years from its breach, for damages to property it is three years from the known damage and for breach of a written contract the statute is four years from the breach.

Most states have similar time limits as California's to bring suit.

If your landlord has waited four years after you vacated your tenancy for seeking monies from you, very well he or she could be barred by the applicable statute of limitations as to his or her claims. Most importantly, how many tenants were in the unit you rented after you left?

Your former landlord never made any claims against you within a reasonable time after your move out for alleged damages. It seems to me that the landlord has a proof problem as to any claims he or she may have against you and you have a claim that after all these years the landlord may have waived any claims against you.

Many landlords at the end of a tenant's lease claim rug or carpet damage and want the tenant to pay for such. However, under the laws of all states, normal wear and tear of items such as carpet and rugs (as opposed to abuse or intentional damage) are allowed and need not be compensated by the tenant.

Good luck.

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