Minnesota Landlord Tenant Laws
Minnesota has strong and detailed protections for residential tenants that both renters and landlords should be fully aware of. Legislation was passed in 2010 that made sweeping changes and updates to the state’s rental law, including increased penalties for bad faith retention of a security deposit and added protections for renters who are in foreclosed properties. Landlords and tenants should brush up on rental law if they have not looked at it since that time, as these changes may impact ongoing lease agreements that they already have in place.
Bear in mind that while all of the information printed below is cited by state statute and is accurate at the time of this writing, it should not be considered a replacement for legal advice from a qualified lawyer.
What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Minnesota?
Minnesota Stat. Ann. 504B is the central set of laws that governs landlord-tenant relationships in the state. There are some special laws that pertain specifically to manufactured homes, and the state publishes a free handbook that directly addresses these ordinances.
Security Deposit Rules
Minnesota has no statute on maximum security deposit amounts, providing a receipt for the deposit, record keeping for deposit withholdings, pet deposits and added fees. Landlords are required to provide interest on security deposits, however. They must provide 1% interest per year, beginning with the first day of the month following receipt of the deposit to the final day of the month in which the deposit is returned (under Stat. Ann. 504B.178).
Landlords are also required to return the deposit to tenants within 21 days of the end of the lease. If the dwelling is legally condemned, however, the landlord has only five days to return the deposit from the date the tenant moves out. Landlords can withhold monies from the deposit for unpaid rent and damages, but they must provide tenants with an itemized list of damages and charges. If the landlord sells or transfers the property, they are required to return the deposit within 60 days. Tenants are not allowed to use the deposit to pay the rent of the final month.
If the landlord fails to comply with any of the provisions of Stat. Ann. 504B.178, they are required to immediately return the deposit in full along with the interest and a penalty equal to the total amount withheld. If a landlord is found to have withheld the security deposit in bad faith, a $500 fine can be added to this amount.
Lease, Rent and Fee Rules
There are no statutes on default rental due dates, grace periods for paying rent without penalty, or returned check fees.
If a landlord wishes to increase rent, Stat. Ann. 504B.177 stipulates that they must give one rental period plus one day of advance notice. Late fees are not allowed to exceed 8% of the total late amount of rent, and the specific fee amount must be included in the lease. If the tenant pays their rent in cash, the landlord is obligated to give them a written receipt.
Application fees are allowed by Stat. Ann. 504B.173. However, the statute stipulates that the fee must be reasonable, and it must be put toward a background check. It can also only be charged if there is a unit available of the type the tenant is requesting. A written lease is actually only mandatory under state law if the landlord owns a building with 12 or more units, but just about all rental arrangements will voluntarily draw up a written lease to avoid trouble. If there is a written lease, the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy.
Subletting is allowed by state law unless the lease specifically forbids it. However, the original tenant will be held liable for unpaid rent and damages to the dwelling.
Stat. Ann. 504B.425 allows tenants to repair and deduct rent with a court judgement. Landlords are allowed to recover attorney and court fees if they win a court case. There is no statute specifying that landlords have to mitigate damages in the case of an abandoned lease.
Notice and Entry Rules
There are no statutes governing termination of a lease for a violation or requiring landlords to give advance notice of a move-out inspection.
For month-to-month and week-to-week leases, tenants are required to give at least one rental period of advance notice under Stat. Ann. 504B.135. Landlords may terminate a lease for non-payment with 14 days advance notice in writing, and they may issue this notice the first day of the rental period that rent goes unpaid.
Provisions for entry by the landlord are covered under Stat. Ann. 504B.211. A specific amount of time is not specified, but the statute does say that it must be a “reasonable” amount of time. In addition, the statute lays out specific purposes for which the landlord is allowed to enter, such as showing the unit or performing maintenance. Landlords may also enter with notice to check on a tenant who is disturbing other tenants or who may be violating the lease. In housing units where at least 80% of the residents are age 55 or older, landlords and their agents may also enter with notice to perform housekeeping duties. If landlords enter when the tenant is not present, they must post written notice of the entry in a conspicuous place.
This same statute also provides for immediate emergency entry conditions. Emergency entry is allowed when there is evidence of unlawful activity, when law enforcement requests emergency entry to the unit, or when there is reason to believe the safety of the tenant or others in the unit is in question.
Landlords can be fined $100 for each breach of notice and entry rules, and may also have the lease immediately annuled. Lockouts and utility shutoffs are never allowed. If a tenant is evicted, they have 28 days to claim any items left in the property before the landlord is allowed to sell them to recover any rent or damages owed to them. If the landlord places the items in storage, the tenant is liable for the cost of that storage to the date that they pick the items up.
Required Disclosures and Notes
The responsibilities of a landlord are laid out in Stat. Ann. 504B.161. Landlords are required to keep the premises fit for use, perform needed maintenance, keep the premises reasonably energy efficient, and to comply with all applicable laws. They must notify tenants that the Landlords and Tenants Rights and Responsibilities Handbook published by the state is available to them, though they do not have to directly provide a copy. Landlords must also disclose their name and address to the tenant along with that of anyone authorized to manage the property, and they must provide a copy of all inspection and condemnation orders and declarations prior to receiving any deposit or signing a lease.
Tenants are required to not participate in illegal activities. If they are engaging in unlawful activities on the premises, they can be evicted immediately but still be held liable for rent payments for the remainder of their lease. Smoking inside of all common areas of apartment buildings is prohibited by the Minnesota Clean Air Indoor Act.
Minnesota offers protection to tenants who have experienced domestic violence under Stat. Ann. 504B.206. Landlords are allowed to request verification of domestic violence status. Once provided with this, tenants are allowed to terminate the lease immediately with a copy of a no contact or protection order. The tenant will still be required to pay any owed rent to that point plus full rent for the following rental period. Landlords may not disclose any of the information they receive from a victim of domestic violence.
Retaliation is illegal under Stat. Ann. 504B.441. This includes refusal to renew a lease, lease termination or a reduction of services in response to a valid complaint to the landlord or to a government agency.
Small Claims Court
The small claims court limit in Minnesota is $15,000. Evictions are not heard in small claims court in the state.