Minnesota Residential Lease Agreement Checklist

If you’re renting residential property in Minnesota, it’s absolutely critical that you have a good Minnesota lease agreement.  All too often, new landlords make the mistake of assuming that an informal agreement will suffice to rent out their property.  

Often, this comes from a place of good intentions.  Family members hesitate to have their loved ones sign a formal Minnesota residential lease agreement because they feel as if paperwork shouldn’t come between family.  Close friends often do the same thing.  New landlords decide to save money by renting their property out based on a handshake or a quickly dashed-off rental agreement rather than a quality contract.

Unfortunately, all of these scenarios can end up in disaster.  Even when dealing with honest people who have no intention of hurting someone else, there is always the possibility of something going wrong.  People can get hurt and be out of work for months, leaving their landlord without rent.  Other people can choose to leave a property without notice.  Accidents happen on properties, and property can get damaged.

A good rental agreement will cover all of these scenarios.  It will specify how and when everything from the rent to accidental property damage is to be taken care of.

Minnesota Residential Lease Agreement Checklist

In order for a Minnesota lease agreement 2022 to be valid, however, it must contain some required information.  Without these items, it is possible for the entire lease agreement to be thrown out of court, leaving an eviction or tenants’ rights hearing entirely up to the discretion of a judge.  If you’re writing your own lease agreement, make sure to include the following information:

Landlord’s Name & Address

Make sure this is very clear and well-defined.  If a tenant is only renting out part of a home, make sure that is very clearly stated, and specifically define which parts of the property the tenant does and does not have access to.  Include access to driveways and major appliances if applicable.

Late Fee Disclosure

Minnesota law states that late fees must be clearly outlined in a lease agreement in order to be enforceable. This includes the amount of the fee and the date it will be charged. By law, this fee may not exceed 8% of the overdue balance.

Inspection & Condemnation Disclosure

If a rental unit has had an outstanding health and safety inspection order with a citation issued for it, then the landlord must disclose it in the rental agreement. In fact, this has to be disclosed to the tenant before he or she signs a lease agreement or pays the security deposit.  The actual inspection order should be included as an attachment to the lease.

Financial Distress Disclosure

A landlord absolutely must disclose if the property has a pending foreclosure. If there is a pending foreclosure, the landlord can only rent out the property for two months or less.  In the event that the property comes out of foreclosure, both the tenant and the landlord must sign a new rental agreement.

Shared Utility Agreement

Landlords who manage multi-unit buildings with one or more rental units with a single utility meter have to pay the utility bill. This means that landlords are not allowed to individually bill their tenants for utilities (in other words, no splitting utility bills).  

Landlords must also provide the following information in regard to utility charges for buildings with individual metering:

  • How the charges will be billed to each tenant?
  • Total utility costs for the shared utility meter for the whole building or property.
  • Upon request, breakdown of the shared utility bill charges for the whole property for up to two years prior.
  • A notice of the “Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program”.  Tenants must be informed of this program by September 30th of each year. Landlords must also provide the toll-free phone number of the administering agency.

Covenant of Landlord and Tenant Not to Allow Unlawful Activities

Landlords are required to provide a notice in the rental agreement that outlines the legal obligations that fall on both the landlord and tenant. This notice includes an agreement for both parties to maintain only legal use of the property and to not allow unlawful activities.

This notice must be included in the lease:

“Landlord and tenant promise that neither will unlawfully allow within the premises, common areas, or curtilage of the premises (property boundaries): controlled substances, prostitution or prostitution-related activity; stolen property or property obtained by robbery; or an act of domestic violence, as defined by MN Statute Section 504B.206 (1)(e), against a tenant, licensee, or any authorized occupant. They further promise that the aforementioned areas will not be used by themselves or anyone acting under their control to manufacture, sell, give away, barter, deliver, exchange, distribute, purchase, or possess a controlled substance in violation of any criminal provision of Chapter 152.”

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints.

For many new landlords, it can be intimidating to find a legally binding Minnesota lease agreement.  In addition to these requirements, it is also necessary to make sure that a lease covers a wide range of circumstances.  If you’ve never written a lease before, it’s a good idea to start with a Minnesota residential lease agreement template.

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