The Complete Guide to Minnesota Tenant Screening Laws in 2024

Find your best tenant yet and protect your investment while adhering to Minnesota’s tenant screening laws with this complete guide. From screening fees and background checks to choosing a tenant screening service and rejecting applicants, this article will help you learn about the initial stages of running a rental business. 

Rachel Robinson
Last Updated
January 26, 2024
The Complete Guide to Minnesota Tenant Screening Laws in 2024

Selecting a prospective tenant is one of the first and most crucial steps of the rental journey. Although it's an exciting step, the process can be filled with its own particular set of challenges, particularly when it comes to finding a tenant who will pay rent on time in compliance with Minnesota's tenant screening laws.

To help you learn Minnesota's specific tenant screening statutes, we've created this complete guide, highlighting the entire screening process, from the rental application fee limit to which background checks landlords can run.

Dive in and uncover how to effectively screen tenants in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Minnesota tenant screening laws fast facts

What's the most a Minnesota landlord can charge for a rental application fee?

In Minnesota, landlords can only charge the actual cost of screening for an applicant screening fee. However, local laws may differ from the statewide standard.

Can landlords run background checks in Minnesota? If yes, which background checks can they run?

Yes, landlords can run background checks in Minnesota to assess the reliability and suitability of applicants. They can run background checks such as criminal history, rental history, and credit report checks.

Does a Minnesota landlord need a prospective tenant's consent to run a background check?

Yes, a landlord in Minnesota must obtain the prospective tenant's written consent to run a background check.

How much can a landlord charge for a maximum security deposit in Minnesota?

Minnesota law allows landlords to charge whatever they deem appropriate for a security deposit.

Minnesota rental application laws

The rental application process is the first step towards finding the best tenant. Before getting started, there are basic requirements outlined in Minnesota's landlord-tenant laws that every landlord and property manager should know.

The requirements are as follows:

Application components

A Minnesota rental application form should obtain the applicant's personal information, including the applicant's contact information, driver's license number, social security number, and birth date.

The form should also collect the applicant's past employment details, rental history, and the contact information for any other persons who may live in the rental property, as well as consent for a consumer credit report.

Adhering to screening fee laws

As a part of the rental application process, landlords can collect a non-refundable fee that is equal to the actual costs of screening incurred by the landlord. Prior to collection of the fee, landlords must disclose the tenant screening service they plan to use and the criteria on which the decision will be based to determine a tenant. Landlords must also provide a written receipt for application fees.

Additionally, landlords cannot:

  • Charge a fee when no rental units are available.
  • Charge a fee before providing the applicant with the tenant screening service's information and the screening criteria to be used.
  • Deposit an applicant's screening fee until all potential tenants have been screened or rejected.
  • Reject a prospective tenant without providing the list of screening criteria not met.

As of 1/1/2024, landlords must disclose any additional fees in advertisements and apartment listings.

Background check consent

Landlords and property managers must obtain prospective tenants' consent in writing prior to contacting previous employers and landlords, as well as before conducting any background checks.

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it's illegal for landlords to ask about any of the following protected classes on the rental application form, including race, color, religion, sex (sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, or disability (physical or mental). Minnesota further protects tenants from discrimination based on characteristics including marital status and use of public assistance.

Minnesota background check laws and process

Minnesota state law allows landlords to run background checks, which include credit reports, criminal background checks, eviction history checks, and rental history checks.

Note that while landlords can use a third-party screening service to check eviction history, landlords may also check this information on their own through Minnesota's public records at Minnesota Public Access (MPA) Remote.

Rejecting rental applications

If a landlord intends to reject a rental application, they must notify the applicant within 14 days, identifying the criteria they failed to meet. Landlords who fail to meet these terms may be liable to the applicant for the screening fee costs, plus a civil penalty of up to $100, civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred.

Adverse action notices: What to know

If a landlord intends to take an action that may be disadvantageous to a renter, the landlord must alert them via an adverse action notice, also known as conditional approval, if the tenant is approved after meeting additional conditions.

Federal law requires this notice whenever a landlord collects a consumer report and takes one of the following actions:

  • Rejects the prospective tenant’s application.
  • Adds a requirement for a co-signer on the potential tenant’s lease.
  • Asks for a higher rent payment after receiving the tenant's credit report.
  • Demands a larger security deposit sum than previously required as a condition for renting.

Adverse action notices must include the following information:

  • Note that the landlord took adverse action based on the consumer credit report.
  • Name and address of the consumer reporting agency.
  • Note the applicant's right to a copy of the report and to dispute the accuracy of the report within 60 calendar days.
  • Note that the landlord decided on the adverse action, not the consumer reporting agency.

Choosing a tenant screening service

As a rental property owner, it's crucial to ensure you avoid engaging in discriminating screening practices. One of the best ways to achieve this is by using screening tools. Such tools can help you efficiently obtain eviction history, criminal history, credit reports, and more, ensuring you're following the same process each time you search for a potential tenant.

Here at Azibo, we offer a suite of tenant screening tools that simplify this process for you. With our comprehensive platform, you can efficiently run background and credit checks, helping you find the best tenants while staying compliant with Minnesota tenant screening laws.

Once you've decided on a tenant, you'll need to create a rental agreement — Azibo can help you with this, too!

Navigating Minnesota's tenant screening laws can be difficult, but with the right approach and tools in place, it can become a central part of your rental process. With thorough screening, you can find the best tenant: one who will pay their rent on time and care for your rental home as you do.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Rachel Robinson

Rachel Robinson has 6 years of experience in writing, editing, and SEO, specializing in rental property and real estate. She excels in market trends and landlord-tenant dynamics, producing content that drives traffic and informs. Outside of work, she enjoys climbing Colorado's granite boulders.

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