This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Glenn Ford, Sr.,
Filed July 22, 2003
Hennepin County District Court
File No. AC024705
Linda White, 5220 Columbus Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55417 (pro se appellant)
Glenn Ford, Sr., 1320 Ė 16th Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411 (pro se respondent)
††††††††††† Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.
††††††††††† In this lease dispute, appellant Linda White argues that the record does not support the district courtís findings and conclusion declining to reimburse her for utility costs incurred during her tenancy in a duplex owned by respondent Glenn Ford, Sr.† Because the record supports the district courtís findings and conclusions that (a) White had adequate notice that her month-to-month lease required her to pay utility costs after her written lease expired, and (b) White waived any claim to reimbursement by continuing to occupy the premises for nine more months, we affirm.
††††††††††† Appellant Linda White rented the upstairs unit of a duplex owned by respondent Glenn Ford, Sr. under a written lease that expired in December 2000.† Under the terms of the written lease, Ford was responsible for paying the electric and gas bills.
After the lease expired, Ford offered White a new written lease, which she did not sign because it did not include the provision that Ford would continue to pay the utilities.† In early February 2001, Ford issued notice to the tenants at the duplex that as of January 15, 2001, he was no longer responsible for paying the gas and electric bills on the premises.† But Ford did pay all of the utilities in January and made arrangements for the tenants to be billed directly as of February 1.† White acknowledges that in February, she talked to the downstairs tenant and saw the other tenantís copy of the notice stating that the utilities would be transferred to that tenantís name.† The downstairs tenant agreed that she showed White a copy of the notice.† White, however, disputed Fordís statement that he also gave White a copy of the notice.†
After White received the first utility bill, she knew that Ford was expecting her to pay the utilities.† White testified that she knew that she could have given Ford notice that she was moving out at the end of January or the beginning of February when she received the first utility bills.† She continued, however, to occupy the unit for about nine more months as a month-to-month tenant.† The record reflects that the utility companies billed White approximately $707.60 for gas and $511 for electricity, which she then paid.
††††††††††† White filed suit in conciliation court seeking reimbursement for the utility bills she paid, claiming that Ford had no legal authority to put the utilities in her name after the lease expired.† After judgment was rendered in favor of Ford, White removed the action to district court for a trial de novo under Minn. Stat. ß 491A.02, subd. 6 (2002).† The parties agreed to a bench trial.† The district court found that Ford was legally entitled to modify the terms of the month-to-month tenancy upon notice to White, that White was provided with adequate notice of the change in terms, and that she waived any claim to reimbursement by continuing to occupy the premises for nine months after she became aware that she was being billed for the utilities.† The district court ordered judgment in favor of Ford for statutory costs of $50 pursuant to Minn. Stat. ß 491A.02, subd. 7 (2002).† White made no posttrial motions, and this appeal followed.†
O P I N I O N
††††††††††† Absent a motion for a new trial, this court determines whether the evidence supports the findings of fact and whether the findings support the conclusions of law and judgment.† Gruenhagen v. Larson, 310 Minn. 454, 458, 246 N.W.2d 565, 569 (1976).† A district courtís findings of fact will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.† Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01.
††††††††††† White contends that the district court erred by finding that she was responsible for paying the utilities in 2001.† She points out that under the written lease in effect in 2000, Ford was to pay the light and gas bills, and that she never signed a new lease assuming responsibility for utility payments.† Based on the limited record before this court, it appears that when the old lease expired at the end of 2000, White occupied the unit under a new month-to-month tenancy.† See Mid Continent Mgmt. Corp. v. Donnelly, 372 N.W.2d 814, 816 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding that when lease expired, tenancy became month-to-month, and landlordís notice of increased rent was reasonable and legally effective), review denied (Minn. Oct. 24, 1985).† Under this tenancy, the requirements of rent and landlord covenants remained in force.† See Minn. Stat. ß 504B.161 (2002).† Ford, however, was free to modify other terms of the agreement to provide that White would be responsible for the payment of utilities.††
††††††††††† The district court found Fordís testimony that he notified White that she would be required to pay utilities under the new tenancy credible.† Credibility determinations lie solely within the province of the factfinder.† Citizens Natíl Bank of Madelia v. Mankato Implement, Inc., 441 N.W.2d 483, 485 (Minn. 1989).† Further, White testified that she saw a copy of the same notice that was delivered to the downstairs tenant.† Therefore, the evidence supports the district courtís finding that White was aware that she would be responsible for the utility payments in 2001.††
††††††††††† Finally, the findings support the district courtís conclusion that White waived any objection to the requirement that she pay her own utilities by remaining in the duplex for approximately nine months after the notice.† ďA waiver is a voluntary and intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right.Ē† Montgomery Ward & Co. v. County of Hennepin, 450 N.W.2d 299, 304† (Minn. 1990). †We may infer an intention to relinquish or abandon the right from the partyís conduct.† Stephenson v. Martin, 259 N.W.2d 467, 470 (Minn. 1977); see, e.g., In re Estate of Sangren, 504 N.W.2d 786, 790 (Minn. App. 1993) (holding that partyís failure to object to assignment made in its presence until four months later constituted waiver), review denied (Minn. Oct. 28, 1993).† Here, the district court correctly determined that White, by failing to contest her payment of utilities until she moved out of the duplex nine months later, waived her right to object to the new payment arrangement.††
The record supports the findings and conclusions that (a) under the month-to-month tenancy, White was obligated to pay the utility bills for her rental unit, (b) she had notice of this requirement, and (c) she waived any right to contest this issue by occupying the apartment for several months afterward.† Accordingly, the district court properly declined to reimburse her for utility expenses incurred and appropriately awarded statutory costs to Ford.