Revised Minnesota Landlord-Tenant Statutes

Several, very important, Minnesota landlord-tenant statutes were revised in 2010, these statutes are:

I.      Minnesota Statute 504B.173 Applicant Screening Fee.

Effective August 1, 2010

Subdivision 1.  Limitations.  Landlord may not:

(1) charge an applicant a screening fee when the landlord knows or should have known that no rental unit is available at that time or will be available within a reasonable future time; (2) collect or hold an applicant screening fee without giving the applicant a written receipt for the fee, which may be incorporated into the application form, upon request of the applicant; or (3) use, cash, or deposit an applicant screening fee until all prior applicants have either been screened and rejected, or offered the unit and declined to enter into a rental agreement.

Subdivision 2.  Return of applicant screen fee.  (a) The landlord must return the applicant screening fee if:

(1) the applicant is rejected for any reason not listed in the disclosure required under subdivision 3; or (2) a prior applicant is offered the unit and agrees to enter into a rental agreement, (b) If the landlord does not perform a personal reference check or does not obtain a consumer credit report or tenant screening report, the landlord must return any amount of the applicant screening fee that is not used for those purposes; (c) The applicant screening fee may be returned by mail, may be destroyed upon the applicant’s request if paid by check, or may be made available for the applicant to retrieve.

Subdivision 3. Disclosure to applicant.   If a landlord accepts an applicant screening fee from a prospective tenant, the landlord must:

(1) disclose in writing prior to accepting the applicant screening fee, (i) the name, address, and telephone number of the tenant screening service the landlord will use, unless the  landlord does not use a tenant screening service; and (ii) the criteria on which the decision to rent to the prospective tenant will be based; and (2) notify the applicant within 14 days of rejecting a rental application, identifying the criteria the applicant failed to meet.

Subdivision 4. Remedies. (a) In addition to any other remedies, a landlord who violates this section is liable to the applicant for the applicant screening fee plus a civil penalty of up to $100, civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred to enforce this remedy; and (b) A prospective tenant who provides materially false information on the application or omits material information requested is liable to the landlord for damages, plus a civil penalty of up to $500, civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees.

II.      Minnesota Stature 504B.271 Storage of Personal Property.

Effective August 1, 2010

Subdivision 1. Abandoned property.  (a) If a tenant abandons rented premises, the landlord may take possession of the tenant’s personal property remaining on the premises, and shall store and care for the property. The landlord has a claim against the tenant for reasonable costs and expenses incurred in removing the tenant’s property and in storing and caring for the property; (b) The landlord may sell or otherwise dispose of the property 28 days after the landlord receives actual notice of the abandonment, or 28 days after it reasonably appears to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the premises, whichever occurs last; (c) The landlord may apply a reasonable amount of the proceeds of a sale to the removal, care, and storage costs and expenses or to any claims authorized pursuant to section 504B.178, subdivision 3, paragraphs (a) and (b). Any remaining proceeds of any sale shall be paid to the tenant upon written demand; (d) Prior to a sale, the landlord shall make reasonable efforts to notify the tenant of the sale at least 14 days prior to the sale, by personal service in writing or sending written notification of the sale by first class and certified mail to the tenant’s last known address or usual place of abode, if known by the landlord, and by posting notice of the sale in a conspicuous place on the premises at least two weeks prior to the sale. If notification by mail is used, the 14-day period shall be deemed to start on the day the notices are deposited in the United States mail.

Subdivision. 2. Landlord’s punitive damages.

If a landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord’s direction or control, in possession of a tenant’s personal property, fails to allow the tenant to retake possession of the property within 24 hours after written demand by the tenant or the tenant’s duly authorized representative or within 48 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, after written demand by the tenant or a duly authorized representative when the landlord, the landlord’s agent or person acting under the landlord’s direction or control has removed and stored the personal property in accordance with subdivision 1 in a location other than the premises, the tenant shall recover from the landlord punitive damages in an amount not to exceed twice the actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, in addition to actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.

In determining the amount of punitive damages the court shall consider (1) the nature and value of the property; (2) the effect the deprivation of the property has had on the tenant; (3) if the landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord’s direction or control unlawfully took possession of the tenant’s property; and (4) if the landlord, an agent, or other person under the landlord’s direction or control acted in bad faith in failing to allow the tenant to retake possession of the property.

The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to personal property which has been sold or otherwise disposed of by the landlord in accordance with subdivision 1, or to landlords who are housing authorities, created, or authorized to be created by sections 469.001 to 469.047, and their agents and employees, in possession of a tenant’s personal property, except that housing authorities must allow the tenant to retake possession of the property in accordance with this subdivision.

Subdivision. 3. Storage.

If the landlord, an agent, or other person acting under the landlord’s direction or control has unlawfully taken possession of a tenant’s personal property the landlord shall be responsible for paying the cost and expenses relating to the removal, storage, or care of the property.

Subdivision. 4. Remedies additional.

The remedies provided in this section are in addition to and shall not limit other rights or remedies available to landlords and tenants. Any provision, whether oral or written, of any lease or other agreement, whereby any provision of this section is waived by a tenant, is contrary to public policy and void. The provisions of this section also apply to occupants and owners of residential real property which is the subject of a mortgage foreclosure or contract for deed cancellation and as to which the period for redemption or reinstatement of the contract has expired.

III.      Minnesota Statute 504B.118 Receipt For Rent Paid in Cash.

Effective August 1, 2010

A landlord receiving rent or other payments from a tenant in cash must provide a written receipt for payment immediately upon receipt if the payment is made in person, or within three business days if payment in cash is not made in person.

IV.      Minnesota Statute 504B.177  Late Fees.

Effective January 1, 2011

(a) A landlord of a residential building may not charge a late fee if the rent is paid after the due date, unless the tenant and landlord have agreed in writing that a late fee may be imposed. The agreement must specify when the late fee will be imposed. In no case may the late fee exceed eight (8%) percent of the overdue rent payment.  Any late fee charged or collected is not considered to be either interest or liquidated damages. For purposes of this paragraph, the “due date” does not include a date, earlier than the date contained in the written or oral lease by which, if the rent is paid, the tenant earns a discount; and (b) If a federal statute, regulation, or handbook providing for late fees for a tenancy subsidized under a federal program conflicts with paragraph (a), then the landlord may continue to publish and implement a late payment fee schedule that complies with the federal statute, regulation, or handbook.

V.     Minnesota Statutes 504B.172 Recovery of Attorney Fees. 

Effective August 1, 2011

If a residential lease specifies an action, circumstances, or an extent to which a landlord, directly, or through additional rent, 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.


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