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Minnesota Property Management Laws

Property management law is a particularly complex corner of the legal field, in large part due to its extreme regional variances. Laws can vary wildly from one state to another, and even from city to city within a state. Newcomers to Minnesota who wish to engage in property management duties are highly encouraged to review relevant legal aspects of renting property to determine the notable differences between Minnesota and other states.

This guide summarizes the most important policies and laws that pertain to property management in Minnesota, from security deposits to landlord maintenance responsibilities. Landlords who do not want to risk the potential for legal problems are highly encouraged to partner with a seasoned, experienced property management company.

Key Point Module

  • 1 The property management laws in Minnesota are expansive and specific, providing a significant amount of information for landlords to learn.
  • 2 Minnesota landlord-tenant laws largely favor the tenant, which puts increased liability on the landlord.
  • 3 Landlords who do not remain in compliance with state and local laws may be subject to steep fines or court-compelled actions.
  • 4 In order to minimize the risk in acting as a landlord in Minnesota, landlords are encouraged to partner with an experienced property management firm.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.

Property Management Laws Overview in Minnesota

Code Description
504B.001 Definitions
504B.101 – 504B.151 Leasing and Rent
504B.155 – 504B. 181 Obligations and Covenants
504B.185 – 504B.204 Inspection Reports and Code Violations
504B.205 – 504B.211 Tenant’s Rights
504B.215 – 504B.231 Utilities; Intentional Ouster
504B.235 – 504B.245 Residential Tenant Reports
504B.251 – 504B.275 Miscellaneous Rights
504B.281 – 504B.371 Eviction Actions
504B.375 – 504B.391 Residential Tenant Actions
504B.395 – 504B.471 Tenant Remedies Action

Property Management Laws

In Minnesota, renting and managing property are considered real estate activities under the law. As such, those engaged in these practices are required to have a valid real estate broker license. This includes listing property, negotiation, drafting rental agreements, or collecting money. 

There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Individuals employed by the owner or manager of a residential rental building do not have to have valid broker licenses. 

To be eligible to receive a broker license in Minnesota, the following criteria are required:

  • At least three years of experience within the five prior years
  • At least 18 years of age
  • Evidence of completion of educational requirements
  • A passing score on the broker exam
  • Proof of adequate insurance in the form of a mandatory surety bond
  • $225 fee, to be paid every two years upon license renewal

Those who wish to start as a salesperson to gain experience can do so by acquiring a salesperson license, which requires classroom coursework, a passing exam score, and a $135 fee. 

Rental Application Laws

What application fees are allowed? 

Application fees are allowed as a part of the rental application process to cover costs associated with reviewing candidacy (504B.173). However, landlords are not permitted to collect fees with the knowledge that no rental unit is available, collect fees without providing a written receipt, or cash or deposit a fee prior to the completion of all applicant screening and the selection of a tenant.

The screening fee must be returned if a prior applicant is offered the rental unit or if the landlord does not complete stated background or credit checks. Fees can be returned via mail or in person, or landlords can destroy an un-cashed check. Landlords who violate policies surrounding application fees are subject to a civil fine of $100, plus any damages that may apply.

Are background checks permissible? 

Yes, background checks are permissible in Minnesota. After providing an application fee, landlords can begin the screening process. However, they are required to provide the name, address, and phone number of the tenant screening service that will be used, unless no such service is being employed (504B.173). Landlords must also disclose the criteria upon which decisions will be made, and must notify a tenant within 14 days of the reasons for application rejection. 

It is important to note that while information uncovered in a background check can be used in making rental decisions, any information indicating protected characteristics, like race or gender, must be excluded. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prevents discrimination based on protected characteristics, as does the Minnesota Human Rights Act

Security Deposit Laws

Are additional move-in fees allowed?

There are no rules in Minnesota regarding move-in fees. As such, landlords are permitted to add incremental amounts to rent as deemed necessary, such as for a pet or other large liability. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

Is there a limit on the security deposit amount that can be charged? 

No. Minnesota does not place limits on security deposits. On average, a security deposit is equal to one month’s rent, but this is subject to landlord discretion. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

Does the landlord have to hold the security deposit in a specific way during occupancy? 

Yes. Landlords are required to hold security deposits in a separate account (504B.178) until return or use of the deposit. Security deposits are expected to yield non-compounded interest of .5% annually. This interest amount must be paid to the tenant upon return. 

How long does the landlord have to return the security deposit after move out? 

A landlord has three weeks after the date of lease termination to return a security deposit or within five days of the end of tenancy due to the condemnation of the building (504B.178). The act of putting the deposit into the mail via USPS based on the instructions provided by a tenant is adequate to meet this requirement.

What are the reasons why a landlord can withhold part or all of the security deposit?

Landlords are permitted to withhold money from a security deposit in order to remedy defaults in rent payments or to make fair and necessary property repairs due to tenant damage (504B.178). Landlords must provide a written statement within three weeks regarding the damages to be corrected. 

What is the penalty if the landlord doesn’t return the security deposit? 

Any bad faith retention of a security deposit by a landlord is punishable by a fine of no more than $500 as well as any applicable damages (504B.178).

Laws about Leases and Lease Termination

What types of lease terms are allowed? 

In Minnesota, both oral and written leases are permitted in both periodic – usually on a month-to-month basis – and fixed term forms. Any building with more than 12 rental units requires the presence of a written lease (504B.111).

What happens if the tenant violates the lease? 

If a tenant violates a lease, the landlord is required to provide notice of the violation and a 14-day grace period to fix the problem or vacate the premises (504B.135). There is no required grace period on rental payments; if a payment is late, landlords are free to begin the eviction process as desired.

How much notice is required for a month-to-month lease termination? 

Unless the lease specifies otherwise, month-to-month tenancy requires a notification period of at least as long as the time period between when lease payments are due. In most cases, this can be translated to mean one month plus a day (504B.135). 

When can a tenant terminate a term lease without penalty? 

There are a few circumstances in which a tenant can terminate a lease without penalty. These include starting active military duty, domestic violence, landlord harassment or invasion of privacy (504B.211), or a landlord fails to provide essential services, like heating. 

How much notice do service members have to supply before terminating the lease?

Per the War and National Defense Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, 50 App. U.S.C.A. § § 501, those leaving for active military service are permitted to break a lease without penalty. Tenancy is assumed to end 30 days after giving notice. 

Are there special lease termination rules for victims of domestic violence? 

Yes. If a tenant fears they are imminent danger of violence, harassment, or sexual assault, he is permitted to provide signed written notice of intent to terminate the lease (504B.206). This must include the intended date upon which the tenant will leave the premises and instructions on what to do with belongings left in the rental unit. If the landlord feels it is necessary, he may request information about the perpetrator to best protect other tenants. 

How and when can a landlord evict a tenant? 

A landlord can evict a tenant whenever the terms of the lease are not being met, including violating noise or pet policies. Landlords are required to offer a grace period of 14 days. If the situation has not been remedied at this point, a landlord can follow through with eviction (504B.135). Eviction is also permitted for a lack of timely rent payments (504B.291). There is no need to provide a grace period for late rent, unless there is no formal lease or rental agreement (504B.135).

The eviction process requires filing an eviction lawsuit in court and going through the proper legal channels. Tenants are permitted to provide a defense in court to contest the eviction action. 

Laws about Rent and Late Fees

When can a landlord increase rent? 

Rent can be increased at the end of a lease term with proper notice (504B.135). Rent cannot be raised during a lease term unless a provision for this was included in the signed lease. 

Is there a maximum amount of rent that a landlord can charge tenants? 

No. There is no maximum amount of rent that can be charged to tenants under normal circumstances. Rent control is not a common mechanism in Minnesota. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

Note that this does not apply to subsidized housing properties. 

Is there a state-mandated grace period that landlords must give tenants before charging a late fee? 

No. Landlords are permitted to charge late fees as desired as long as the terms governing late fees are included in the lease. Landlords do not have to charge fees or provide any grace period for late rent (504B.291).

Is there a limit on how much of a late fee the landlord can charge tenants?

No. There is no limit on the amount a landlord can charge for late rent. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

Legally Required Disclosures

What types of disclosures are landlords required to supply regarding ownership of the property?

Landlords in Minnesota have significant disclosure requirements. Landlords are required to provide evidence of any inspection orders that have resulted in a citation (504B.195). If these citations do not result in code violations that affect health and safety, they must be posted in visible common areas surrounding all buildings affected. If no citation was issued, landlords do not have to post any notices as long as repairs are made in a timely manner. 

Can the owner designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures? 

Yes. Landlords can designate an agent to serve and receive disclosures in Minnesota. Code section 504B.195 contains phrasing that references “the landlord, agent, or person acting under the landlord’s control.”

What disclosures related to mold are landlords required to supply?

Unless there are inspection orders that resulted in citations referencing mold, there are no specific mold disclosure requirements in Minnesota. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

What disclosures related to lead paint are landlords required to supply?

Landlords who own or oversee buildings built before 1978 are required to disclose any known hazards related to the presence of lead or lead-based paint. Tenants must also be provided a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” pamphlet. This is a federal law; Minnesota does not have any specific disclosure requirements. 

Laws about Landlord Responsibilities

How much notice does the landlord have to supply before entry? 

A landlord must, in good faith, attempt to provide reasonable notice prior to entry (504B.211). Entry can only be made for “reasonable business purposes.” What constitutes reasonable notice is not quantified. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. Failure to comply with either notice or purpose policies can result in a fine of up to $100 per violation. 

When can the tenant refuse to allow the landlord entry? 

There are no specific rules as to when a tenant can refuse entry in Minnesota. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply. 

What steps must the landlord take to keep the property habitable?

In Minnesota, landlords are required to meet the following standards in providing a habitable unit (504B.161):

  • The property must be fit to live in based on local building codes
  • The property must be in reasonable repair with no major deficiencies
  • The property must be in compliance with local safety and health laws
  • The property must be reasonably energy efficient

Under no circumstances can landlords waive these requirements or require tenants to perform duties necessary to maintain these standards. 

What amenities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

There are no specific rules in the Minnesota state code regarding what amenities a landlord must supply and maintain. In general, amenities required under local laws in order to maintain health and safety standards (504B.161) include access to heating, electricity, running water, and effective plumbing. The extent to which these services must be provided and maintained will vary from one county or city to the next depending on local codes. 

What utilities must the landlord supply and maintain? 

There are no specific utilities a landlord is required to maintain, but most local health and safety codes require the availability of heat, running water, electricity, and plumbing. Who pays for utilities will depend on the lease terms; in some cases, landlords pay for some costs, like heating or water, while the tenant pays the rest. In others, a tenant may be responsible for all utilities. 

Does the landlord have to supply a certificate of inspection? 

There are no specific laws in Minnesota regarding a certificate of inspection. However, some local jurisdictions may require rental properties to be licensed. Terms can vary on a county, city, or local level. 

Is the landlord required to supply locks and keys?

There are no specific laws in Minnesota regarding locks and keys. However, providing locks and keys may be required for a dwelling to remain habitable based on county, city or regional health and safety standards. 

Are retaliatory actions prohibited?

Yes. Landlords cannot punish tenants with significant rent increases or eviction based on complaints made by the tenant (504B.441). 

Property Maintenance and Repair Laws

What type of maintenance is the landlord responsible for?

Landlords are responsible for any maintenance required to meet the habitable standards in Minnesota (504B.161). This can mean repairs to HVAC systems or plumbing. However, beyond this point, the breakdown of who makes repairs will depend on the terms of the lease. In some cases, requiring a tenant to handle repairs must involve concessions, like a discounted rent amount. 

In general, landlords must also maintain common spaces. 

How long does the landlord have to make repairs? 

Landlords are required to make repairs within 14 days of receiving notice from a tenant (504B.161). If this timeline is not met, a tenant may call for an inspector to assess the property or take Rent Escrow Action (504B.385). This is a simplified way to report violations without getting an attorney involved. 

What type of maintenance is the tenant responsible for? 

Tenants are responsible for any maintenance that does not fall within a landlord’s obligations to keep a property habitable. Tenants are also required to make any repairs that may have been agreed upon in the lease (504B.161). Landlords cannot obligate tenants to make repairs that are required to make a property habitable. 

Is the landlord responsible to fix damage caused by tenants? 

Landlords have no responsibility to fix damage caused by tenants unless a lease term states otherwise. Landlords do have an obligation to keep properties in a habitable state (504B.161), and this includes repairing any tenant damage that may endanger this. 

When does a landlord have to return and/or lower rent due to diminished rental value? 

Rent can be abated in cases in which a tenant enters the Rent Escrow Action process (504B.385). Effectively, this provision allows a tenant to report unaddressed violations to the court in order to compel necessary repairs. In this time, the tenant will pay rent to the court rather than the landlord until violations are corrected. After this process begins, the court will call a hearing within 10 to 14 days to be attended by the tenant and the landlord. If a judge find that violations do exist that a landlord has been neglecting, he can demand that the landlord fixes the problem, either independently or under the oversight of an administrator, return rent to the tenant, order future rent payments to be made to the court versus the landlord, or require rent to be abated or eliminated until violations are remedied. Landlords found to be violating state or local policies regarding habitability can also be fined. 

When can a tenant request an official inspection to determine substandard or dangerous living conditions? 

Tenants can request the involvement of inspectors at any point following the 14 day period landlords have to make repairs (504B.395). An inspector’s findings are usually required to begin the Rent Escrow Action process (504B.385).

Under what circumstances can a tenant make a repair and deduct the cost from the rent paid to the landlord? 

Tenants can be permitted to make repairs and deduct the amount from rent if this is what the court deems appropriate during a Rent Escrow Action (504B.385). Tenants can also sue for this right, but this is a far more costly process. 

Tenants can withhold rent in order to compel repairs but this decision will have to be defended in court. As such, a Rent Escrow Action is the suggested way of handling any kind of violation on the part of the landlord. 

When is a landlord required to pay for relocation assistance? 

There are no specific instances in Minnesota in which a landlord is required to pay relocation assistance. Relocation may be required under specific policies upheld by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, but this is paid for by the government, not the landlord. There may be county, city or regional rules that apply.

Who Is Exempt? 

While landlord-tenant laws in Minnesota cover most residential renters, there are some exceptions. The most notable exception involves subsidized housing. For example, subsidized properties are not held to the same rent standards; landlords cannot raise rent whenever they are inclined to do so and are instead bound by federal rules as well as any state or local policies. 

Additional Rental Law Resources for the State of Minnesota

While the above information offers a comprehensive summary of landlord-tenant laws in Minnesota, there are other resources available that tenants and landlords alike may find helpful. 

Name Phone Number Description
Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities (800) 657-3787 This thorough guide is provided by the State Attorney General and spells out rights and responsibilities for both tenants and landlords in clear language.
Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (800) 657-3787 An extension of the State Attorney General’s office, the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency provides information about fair housing requirements.
HOME Line 866-866-3546 HOME Line is a tenant advocacy group that offers access to attorneys and other resources.

Note: This guide is intended to be used as an educational resource. The contents within do not constitute legal advice. To obtain information regarding property management laws in your state, consult a local attorney. This guide is based only on property management laws at the state level. Local county and city laws may exist that are not discussed in this guide. Consult a local attorney to obtain information that pertains to your specific location and situation.