This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C1-01-1530

 

Margaret Dahlberg,
Respondent,

vs.

A. K. Dube,
Appellant.

 

Filed June 4, 2002

Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded

Stoneburner, Judge

 

Scott County District Court

File No. 0014387

 

Margaret Dahlberg, 518 East Main Street, Belle Plaine, MN 56011 (pro se respondent)

 

Lewis A. Remele, Jr., Matthew J. Franken, Bassford, Lockhart, Truesdell & Briggs, P.A., 3550 Multifoods Tower, 33 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)

 

            Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Harten, Judge, and Anderson, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

STONEBURNER, Judge

 

Appellant-landlord A.K. Dube alleges that the district court erred by concluding that he was not entitled to retain respondent-former-tenant Margaret Dahlberg’s damage deposit for damaging the carpet in the apartment she rented from him and that the district court miscalculated interest on the damage deposit.  We affirm the district court’s conclusion that appellant failed to prove that he was entitled to retain the damage deposit but reverse the award of interest and remand for a determination of the period of interest on the deposit and for calculation of interest for that period at the correct statutory rate.

FACTS

 

Dahlberg moved into one of Dube’s apartments in December 1998 and vacated the premises on June 30, 2000.  Her damage deposit was $735 but later decreased to $535 when she moved to a different apartment.  When Dahlberg moved out, Dube’s caretaker conducted a final inspection and indicated on the move-out inspection form that everything was fine.

            On July 21, 2000, Dube notified Dahlberg that he intended to withhold her damage deposit because: (1) she failed to pay a full-month’s rent in February, causing each month until June to be partially paid; (2) she kept cats in her apartment in violation of the lease, resulting in cat-urine damage to the carpet; (3) she moved out six hours late; and (4) she failed to clean the oven.

            Dahlberg brought a conciliation court action against Dube for her damage deposit and costs.  Dube counterclaimed for $2,868.94, primarily for unpaid rent, removal of cat odor, and carpet replacement.  The conciliation court found in favor of Dahlberg.  Dube removed the case to district court.  After a court trial, the district court awarded Dahlberg her damage deposit of $535 and interest on the damage deposit in the amount of $522.95 and awarded Dube $277.20 for February rent.[1]  The district court ordered judgment for Dahlberg in the amount of $800.75.[2]  Dube appeals.

D E C I S I O N

 

            An appellate court will only disturb a district court’s findings when they are clearly erroneous.  Fletcher v. St. Paul Pioneer Press, 589 N.W.2d 96, 102 (Minn. 1999)  (citing Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01).  Findings are clearly erroneous if the evidence does not reasonably support them.  Id.

            Dube contends that the district court clearly erred by finding that there was no credible evidence supporting his claim that there was cat-urine damage to the carpet in Dahlberg’s apartment because he submitted evidence that an inspector observed “residual animal urine” in the apartment, Dube testified to the smell of cat urine, and Dahlberg admitted to having had cats for at least a week.  Dube’s caretaker, however, did not indicate any odor or other problem with cat urine on the final inspection form, and Dube’s inspector was not in the apartment until almost two months after Dahlberg moved out.  Although Dahlberg admitted that she had her father’s cats in her apartment for about one week after her father’s death, she testified that there was no damage to the carpet.  The district court is in the best position to weigh credibility of witnesses in bench trials.  See State v. Davis, 540 N.W.2d 88, 90 (Minn. App. 1995) (noting that credibility deference is the same for jury trials and bench trials), review denied (Minn. Jan. 31, 1996).  Because there is evidence in the record to support the district court’s finding, we cannot conclude that the district court clearly erred by making the finding.

            Having found that Dahlberg did not damage the apartment, the district court correctly concluded that she was entitled to a return of her damage deposit plus interest.  The district court, however, clearly erred in the calculation of interest.  Minn. Stat. § 504B.178, subd. 2 (2000), provides in relevant part:

Any deposit of money * * * shall be held by the landlord for the tenant * * * and shall bear simple noncompounded interest at the rate of three percent per annum * * * computed from the first day of the next month following the full payment of the deposit to the last day of the month in which the landlord, in good faith, complies with the requirements of subdivision 3 or to the date upon which judgment is entered in any civil action involving the landlord’s liability for the deposit, whichever date is earlier.

 

            The district court appears to have adopted interest calculations proposed by Dahlberg.  The proposed calculations present two problems.  First, the interest is calculated at three percent per month rather than per annum.  Second, interest is calculated to the date of trial without any explanation or reasoning about why Dube’s letter of July 21, 2000, does not constitute good-faith compliance with the Minn. Stat. § 504B.178, subd. 3 (2000).  A landlord can comply with Minn. Stat. § 504B.178, subd. 3, by returning the damage deposit within three weeks after termination of the tenancy, which was not done in this case.  But a landlord may also comply with the statute by furnishing a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding the deposit.  Id.  A landlord may withhold from the deposit only the amounts reasonably necessary to remedy defaults in rent payments or to “restore the premises to their condition at the commencement of the tenancy, ordinary wear and tear excepted.”  Id.  Dube gave the appropriate notice in this case.  Because the district court failed to address whether Dube’s letter constituted good-faith compliance with the statute, we remand to the district court for a determination and for recalculation of interest for the appropriate period at the appropriate rate.[3]

            In her brief, Dahlberg requests attorney fees.  Because Dahlberg has not complied with Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 139.06, we decline to address the request.  See Koes v. Advanced Design, Inc., 636 N.W.2d 352, 363 (Minn. App. 2001) (declining to address request for fees on appeal where requesting party did not comply with Rule 139.06), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 2002).

            In his reply brief, Dube requests costs for this appeal, but Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 139.03 governs such requests and Dube has not complied with the rule.  We, therefore, decline to address the request.

            Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.

 



[1] The award of back rent is not an issue in this appeal.

[2] The figure based on the amounts listed in the judgment should be $780.75.  The record does not reflect what the additional $20 represents.

[3] Even if interest is calculated to the date of the entry of judgment, June 7, 2001, the total amount of interest at three percent per annum is $42.44, calculated as follows.  Interest on $735 from 1/1/99 – 7/31/99: 735 x .03 = 22.05 /365 = 0.0604 per day x 211 days = $12.74.  Interest on $535 from 8/1/99 – 12/31/99: 535 x .03 = 16.05/365 = 0.0439 per day x 153 days = 6.7167 + 16.0500 (for all of 2000) + 6.9362 (for 158 days in 2001) = 29.70.  $29.70 + $12.74 = $42.44.