The primary laws governing the residential landlord and tenant relationship in Minnesota can be found in Minnesota Statutes 504B. Typically, the landlord-tenant relationship and its rules are defined by the lease agreement. However, even a lease agreement can’t overcome the law. If a residential lease attempts to waive the rights of the parties or is contrary to Minnesota law, those provisions may be unenforceable. Therefore, the choice of lease agreement is important to both parties.

There are a number of lease documents available on the Internet, but unless specifically designed to work with Minnesota laws, a landlord and tenant could find that they have used an unenforceable contract. A good example of a residential lease is available from the Minnesota State Bar Association. The most recent version is available for download here:
Minnesota State Bar Association Residential Lease

In addition to the rights and obligations defined by the lease, the statute allows for certain legal remedies that take place through the court system. The primary legal remedies used for resolving landlord-tenant disputes are the Eviction Action (Unlawful Detainer), the Rent Escrow Action, and the Emergency Tenant Remedies Action. Each of these actions requires filing particular documents in the appropriate county and paying a filing fee.

The Rent Escrow Action can be used when the landlord has not made requested or necessary repairs to the rented premises. Before using the Rent Escrow Action, the tenant should make sure that the maintenance request was made in writing to the landlord’s address as stated in the lease. The tenant should make sure the notice is dated and signed. Delivery by Certified Mail or other confirmed delivery is recommended. The landlord should be given 14-days to make the requested repairs. If the landlord does not perform the repairs, then the tenant may proceed with a Rent Escrow Action by depositing the rent with the appropriate court with the required forms.

The Emergency Tenant Remedies Action is similar to the Rent Escrow Action, but is intended to be used in true emergency situations such as no heat, no water, no electricity, or other unsafe or conditions that make the rented premises not habitable. Upon filing the Emergency Tenant Remedies Action, the tenant has the landlord served with papers. Twenty-four hours before filing the Emergency Tenant Remedies Action, the tenant should attempt to inform the landlord of the emergency and that the tenant intends to file the Emergency Tenant Remedies Action. Notice to the landlord isn’t always possible, but the attempt should be made. The notice to the landlord does not have to be in writing.


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