Landlord Weapon or Tenant Shield? A Proposal to Reform North Dakota's Residential Security Deposit Statute
37 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2010
Date Written: 2009
This article reviews North Dakota’s existing security deposit legislation and proposes amendments the author believes are necessary to carry through its original purpose of shifting “some of the security” over to the tenant. To allow for proper consideration of the existing law and the proposed changes, the article first explores the historical foundations of residential landlord-tenant law in America, detailing the disproportionate treatment tenants uniformly received at common law and describing the evolution of lease security as a mechanism with the exclusive goal of protecting the landlord. The article goes further to consider the progressive national context in which the North Dakota Legislature enacted the state’s security deposit statute in 1977, placing particular focus on the paradigm shift of the 1960s and early 1970s, in which courts and legislators throughout the United States took steps to protect tenants from overreaching landlords. After highlighting the pro-tenant motivations that led to the enactment of the North Dakota security deposit legislation, the article then reviews the existing statute’s specific provisions. Ultimately, the article identifies relevant shortcomings and ambiguities in the current provisions, and proposes specific amendments to the legislation for consideration by North Dakota lawmakers.
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