In 2010, the Minnesota legislature enacted several new laws that have taken effect or will take effect soon (the following are changes to the law and do not represent all law related to landlords and tenants in Minnesota):
EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 2010
Landlord’s Bad Faith Retention of Security Deposit:
• A landlord’s bad faith retention of all or any part of a tenant’s security deposit subjects the landlord to punitive damages not to exceed $500 (previously $200) for each deposit.
Storage of Personal Property:
• If a tenant leaves property behind, the landlord must hold onto the property for 28 days (changed from 60 days). Note that a landlord has the right to charge a tenant a reasonable amount for the cost of removal, storage, and care of the tenant’s property. If not claimed by the tenant, the landlord has the right to dispose of or sell the personal property.
Receipts for Cash Payment of Rent:
• If a landlord receives cash payments for rent, landlord must provide tenant with a written receipt immediately upon payment if made in person, or within three business days for payments not made in person. Note that there is currently no defined penalty for failure to provide a receipt.
• If a tenant produces a copy of one or more money orders or original receipt stubs showing the purchase of a money order, and if the money orders total the rent amount and are dated on or around the date rent was due, there is a rebuttable presumption that tenant has paid the rent (landlord has opportunity to prove that rent was not paid).
Renters in Foreclosed Property:
• If the lease began after the date the mortgage was executed and prior to the expiration of the redemption period, the immediate successor in interest (example: buyer) must provide at least 90 days’ written notice to vacate, given no sooner than the expiration of the redemption period, and effective no sooner than 90 days from the expiration of the redemption period.
• If the term of a bona fide lease extends more than 90 days beyond the date the redemption period expires, a tenant can stay until the end of the lease term, unless the immediate successor or immediate subsequent bona fide purchaser will occupy the unit as a primary residence, in which case the 90-day notice requirement applies.
• If the term of a Section 8 lease extends more than 90 days beyond the date the redemption period expires, only the immediate successor (not a subsequent bona fide purchaser) who will occupy the unit as a primary residence can terminate the lease with 90 days notice.
• In all cases, tenant must still pay the rent and abide by the terms of the lease.
Note: These are interim provisions related specifically to foreclosure and are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
Utility Bills in Shared-Meter Buildings:
• A landlord who does not follow the requirements on division of utility charges for shared meters is liable for triple the damages or $500, whichever is greater.
• A landlord may not charge an applicant a screening fee if no rental unit is available at the time or will not be available within a reasonable future time, and a landlord must process applications in sequential order.
• If a landlord accepts an applicant screening fee, the landlord must disclose the screening service the landlord will use, if any, and the criteria on which rental decisions will be based.
• If the applicant is rejected for any reason not listed in the required disclosure, the landlord must return the screening fee.
• A landlord may be liable for the screening fee plus a penalty up to $100, costs and reasonable attorney fees.
• A prospective tenant who provides materially false information on the application or omits requested material information is liable to the landlord for damages plus a civil penalty of up to $500, plus civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees.
EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2011 for leases entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2011
• A landlord may not charge a late fee if the tenant pays the rent after the due date UNLESS the landlord and tenant have agreed in writing that a late fee may be imposed.
• In no case may the late fee exceed 8% of the overdue rent payment.
• Late fees are not considered interest or liquidated damages.
• If federal program rules conflict with provisions under state law, the federal rules apply.
EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 2011 for new leases; AUGUST , 2012 for leases renewed on or after that date.
• If a lease specifies an action, circumstances, or an extent to which a landlord may recover attorney fees in an action between the landlord and tenant, the tenant is entitled to attorney fees if the tenant prevails in the same type of action, under the same circumstances, and to the same extent as specified in the lease for the landlord.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT MINNESOTA LANDLORD-TENANT LAW OR CHANGES TO THE LAW, YOU SHOULD SEEK COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE.
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