How To Be Prepared For Your Next Rental Agreement In Minnesota

As you start your venture looking into a place to rent, there are some things to keep in mind for the Minnesota area. Almost always, there will be a contract you will need to sign, and you want to make sure you make the correct choice.

Do a Walk-Through and Talk to Current Tenants

A good place to start is by taking a walk through any potential new rental home. Talking to current tenants and taking a walk around the neighborhood can also help you decide if this is the rental unit for you. If you have kids, safety is most likely a top priority for you, so you want to make sure you do your research on the location.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

You should also consider your budget. A safe guideline for renting is to keep the price of the rental around 30% of your gross income, which is your income before any deductions, like taxes. So for example, if your gross monthly income is about $4,000 you should be able to comfortably handle rent of around $1,200 per month. Be sure to account for any additional monthly costs, like paying for a garage for your car, or for having pets in your apartment. The further you go over this benchmark, the more likely you are to experience difficulty handling every day unexpected financial issues.

Be Prepared for a Tenant Screening Fee

Once you decide to apply for a particular rental unit, be prepared to pay a tenant screening fee. If the landlord charges a tenant screening fee, it must be used for a tenant screening report and paid to a third party – an outside company other than the landlord themselves. The landlord must disclose to you in writing the name, address and phone number of the screening service and the criteria used to accept or reject the tenant. If you’re rejected, they must state the reason for your rejection and notify you within 14 days of the rejection.

Qualifications to Receive a Screening Fee Refund

There are four grounds to have the screening fee returned to you if you’re rejected. One is if you’re rejected for a reason that’s not on the disclosed criteria, a prior tenant is offered the unit and accepts it, the screening wasn’t done or the fee they charged you was more than the actual costs of the screening. Based on these timelines, it’s a good idea to start looking as early as possible, so if you are rejected, you have time to consider other rental units.

You can also dispute an inaccurate screening report. Any incorrect information usually comes from a credit report. If you request a copy of the credit report and there’s incorrect information on it, you should write a letter to the credit bureau that issued that report and provide them with any evidence you have that the information is incorrect. You can also submit a 100-word statement to be included with your credit report whenever someone requests a copy of it.

A landlord may also a pre-lease deposit. The deposit is paid before entering into

A rental agreement usually to hold the unit until the landlord does their background check. This must also be in writing and must allow for the return of the deposit and explain what the terms of the refund are. It must state that the deposit will be returned within seven days of reason for a return and that if the potential tenant is accepted, the fee must be applied to rent, or the security deposit if a lease is signed. If these rules aren’t followed, Minnesota law gives the potential tenant the ability to sue the landlord for one and a half times the amount of the deposit.

Budget for a Security Deposit

Another cost you will usually run into when becoming a tenant in Minnesota is the security deposit. A security deposit is defined in Minnesota law as any money paid to secure performance of the rental contract other than the rent. The amount is usually one month rent or less depending on the landlord. The security deposit cannot be used for the last months rent, but it can be used toward unpaid rent, repairing damages and covering fees. The security deposit itself is not a fee. A landlord cannot automatically deduct carpet cleaning from a security deposit. Security deposits may also be required to connect utilities to your new home, so you want to find out what the companies that will be providing the utilities are so you can contact them and find out how much of a deposit they will want, if any, especially if you are a new renter and don’t have a track record that the utility companies can rely on.

It’s a good idea to have these costs already set aside when you begin your search for a rental unit because not being able to pay them right away could mean you lose out on the unit you really wanted. If you have any questions, please send us an email at [email protected].

Marie Martin
About the Author: Marie Martin
Marie F. Martin is an experienced bankruptcy attorney serving the Twin City area. She represents Minnesota families in bankruptcy court, and has handled thousands of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases from beginning to end.