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Hellmuth & Johnson PLLC

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Landlord/Tenant statute changes

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Recently there have been some significant changes to the Landlord/Tenant statute that was enacted at the end of May. As a courtesy to our clients and friends of the firm, we wanted to be sure you knew about these. Below are some of the highlights.

Retaining abandoned personal property(504B.271). For years, Landlords have had to retain personal property abandoned by tenants for at least 60 days before the landlord my sell or otherwise dispose of the personal property. This 60-day period has now been reduced to 28 days from the time of abandonment.

Punitive damages related to personal property (504B.271). In the past, if the Landlord failed to retain personal property for the statutory period, or failed to return personal property upon demand, then landlord was liable for actual damages and also punitive damages of up to $300. The punitive damages component has now been increased to twice the actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater.

Temporary New Laws to Evict Hold Over Tenants after Foreclosure (504B.285)(Effective Immediately).

  • This provision has been temporarily modified until December 31, 2012, after which the changes sunset, or revert to the way they currently are.
  • For any eviction action commenced on or before December 31, 2012, where the person holding over was a tenant during the redemption period under a lease of any duration, and the lease began after execution of the mortgage, then the foreclosing party must provide at least 90-days' written notice to vacate, given no sooner than the date of the expiration of the time for redemption, provided that the tenant pays the rent and abides by all terms of the lease (in other words, you must give the 90-day notice to vacate, but can evict earlier if they are not paying rent or otherwise violating the lease).
  • If the existing lease has a term that extends more than 90 days beyond the end of the redemption period, then the tenant must be allowed to stay until the end of the term, as long as the tenant pays rent and abides by the terms of the lease. If the foreclosing party terminates the lease, then the foreclosing party must provide at least 90-days' written notice to vacate, given no sooner than the date of the expiration of the time for redemption, provided that the tenant pays the rent and abides by all terms of the lease (in other words, you must give the 90-day notice to vacate, but can evict earlier if they are not paying rent or otherwise violating the lease).

Limit on late fees (504B.177). Late fees are now specifically capped at a maximum of eight percent (8%) of the overdue rent payment. In addition, late fees cannot be charged unless a written lease provision allows for it. For the landlord, allowable late fees are now specifically defined by law not to be "interest or liquidated damages." These provisions apply only to leases entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2011.

Tenant's statutory right to recover attorney fees (504B.172). A lease cannot limit the recovery of attorneys' fees to only the landlord. If the lease specifies that the landlord may recover attorneys' fees in an action between the landlord and the tenant, then the tenant is, by statute, entitled to attorneys' fees if the tenant prevails "in the same type of action, under the same circumstances, and the to the same extent as specified in the lease" for the landlord. This provision applies to new leases entered into on or after August 1, 2011, and renewed on or after August 1, 2012.

For more information on these changes, you may contact Joel A. Hilgendorf at 952-941-4005 or jhilgendorf@hjlawfirm.com, or any of our real estate attorneys.