Minnesota's Repair and Maintenance Law: Rights and Responsibilities

This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s repair and maintenance laws. From repair timelines to tenant’s rights to repairs, you’ll learn the regulations crucial to building an unbreakable tenancy and maintaining a rental property in good condition in the North Star State.

By
Rachel Robinson
|
Last Updated
January 22, 2024
Minnesota's Repair and Maintenance Law: Rights and Responsibilities

Understanding the nuances of Minnesota's repair and maintenance laws is crucial for both landlords and tenants. These regulations not only dictate the responsibilities and rights of each party but lay the foundation for unbreakable tenancies.

For landlords, staying informed about your obligations for repairs ensures compliance with state laws and fosters a positive relationship with your tenants. Renters, on the other hand, have the right to live in a rental home that is in reasonable condition. As a result, they need to be aware of their own duties and the options available if repairs aren't addressed.

This guide delves into the intricacies of Minnesota's repair and maintenance laws, offering insight into what it takes to maintain a rental property. Join us as we explore the responsibilities, timelines, and renter rights that shape the North Star State's landlord-tenant dynamic.

Minnesota landlord responsibilities for repairs and maintenance

Minnesota landlords are required to keep the following amenities in good, working order:

  • Heating.
  • Hot and cold potable water.
  • Plumbing.
  • Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Weatherproofing door/window seals.
  • Common areas (if applicable to the rental unit).
  • Any additional amenities outlined by local health and safety laws.

It's important to note that if any of these amenities stop working, it's the landlord's duty to make a reasonable repair.

Minnesota renters' responsibilities for repairs

Minnesotan tenants also have responsibility in making repairs and maintaining of a rental property. Generally, tenants are responsible for keeping rentals in habitable living conditions, as well as making small repairs. However, if tenants were to cause serious property damage affecting health and safety in the building due to their own deliberate, irresponsible actions, they'd have to make the necessary repairs.

To be included in the rental agreement, landlords and tenants can work out what specific maintenance the tenant will handle, but this can't include basic statutory habitability or energy efficient repairs. In return, the tenant has to receive consideration, such as rent reduction or payment from the landlord, for their work [Minn. Stat. § 504B.161, subd. 2 (2023)].

Repair and maintenance timeline

Landlords are legally required to act on maintenance requests within a certain number of days. This prevents tenants from living in potentially uninhabitable conditions for extended periods of time, and, in many cases, also obligates the issue to be taken care of before it has the opportunity to get worse.

Requesting a repair

To have repairs made, Minnesota tenants must request repairs by notifying the landlord, in writing, of the amenities that require maintenance.

If the local government has cited the landlord for a code violation, the tenant doesn't need to submit a repair request, as the citation serves as a notice.

Making the repair

After receiving written notice from a tenant, Minnesota landlords have 14 days [Minn. Stat. § 504B.385(1)(c) (2022)] to make the requested repairs.

Repairs for a code violation may need to be addressed in a shorter period of time.

Tenants' rights if repairs aren't made

If the landlord fails to make the repairs within the 14-day time frame, Minnesota tenants can file a rent escrow action against the landlord. The court may then choose to take several actions:

  • Award monetary damages to the tenant.
  • Issue an injunction against the landlord.
  • Allow tenants to withhold a percentage of their rent amount, such as for a rent reduction or repair and deduct remedy.
  • Allow tenants to break the lease agreement.

For severe habitability issues, Minnesota tenants may also claim constructive eviction, which does not require court action. In the case of a constructive eviction, tenants would move out and withhold rent payments. Renters can also break the lease without court action in the case of extreme damage that violates health and safety codes, rendering the property uninhabitable.

Landlord retaliation in Minnesota

It is illegal for Minnesota landlords to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions like making a good-faith complaint to authorities about the landlord violating their legal responsibilities. Eviction, reduced services, or increased obligations are all considered forms of retaliation.

If any of these actions occur within 90 days of the complaint, the landlord must prove the action had a non-retaliatory intention.

Timely repairs build unbreakable tenancies

In essence, knowing and practicing Minnesota's repair and maintenance laws is key to nurturing unbreakable landlord-tenant relationships, and, as a result, a successful rental business.

For landlords, swift and efficient handling of repairs is more than a legal requirement; it's a testament to their commitment to their tenants and the preservation of their rental properties. For renters, understanding their role and rights in the maintenance process empowers them to contribute to a positive rental experience. The combination leads to fewer disputes and a harmonious experience for everyone.

Interested in learning about additional landlord-tenant laws in Minnesota? Check out our comprehensive guide on Minnesota's rental regulations, highlighting security deposit laws, mandatory disclosures, lease terms, entry laws, and much more.

Minnesota's repair and maintenance law FAQs

Can a landlord refuse to make repairs in Minnesota?

No, Minnesotan landlords cannot refuse to make repairs, even if the tenant needs to pay rent. Minnesota law clearly states that tenants are relieved from at least part of the responsibility of rent payments if the landlord breaches the statutory covenants.

How long does a landlord have to make repairs according to Minnesota law?

Minnesotan landlords have 14 days to make repairs after receiving written notice from the tenant. However, code violations may need to be addressed in less time.

Do Minnesota landlords have to pay for alternative accommodations during repairs?

No, landlords are not required to pay for tenant's alternative accommodations while repairs are being made in Minnesota.

Can Minnesota tenants report a landlord for health and safety code violations?

Yes, tenants residing in Minnesota can report landlords to the local inspections or code enforcement department for code violations affecting health and safety. If an inspecting officer discovers a violation, the landlord is legally on notice to repair it for rent escrow purposes.

Does it cost to file a rent escrow action?

Yes, there is a filing fee. However, renters can fill out a court fee waiver form to ask the court to let them skip paying the fee. Renters will need to have proof of low income, such as pay stubs or government assistance.

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.

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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