Q: We are the owner and occupier of a two-bedroom duplex in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. We have placed our bed in the smaller bedroom in our half of the duplex, in the hopes that a couple renting the lower half of our duplex would use the larger bedroom in their unit so that we would not have people directly below us. We are wondering if we can advertise for a couple to move into the lower half of our duplex. I know we have some leeway as to what we can and cannot do as owners who live in the building, but I’m not sure if it is legal to specify in our ad that we want to rent only to a couple.
A: Under state and federal law, there are multiple protected classes, such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. It is considered illegal if you advertise your duplex stating “couples only” or even alluding to it by stating “a great duplex for couples,” since you are suggesting a preference. This type of advertisement would discourage families with children from applying, and since familial status is a protected class, it would be illegal to advertise this type of preference. However, in this situation, there is an exception for owner-occupied rentals with four units or less, for senior housing and for a rooming house when the owner lives in the house. As the owner and resident of a duplex, you may turn away prospective tenants with children. Most landlords choose tenants with the best rental and credit history, regardless of the protected class they may fall under. My advice to you is to do the same and remain neutral in your ads.
Tenant told to move before lease ends
Q: My boyfriend is in a fixed-term lease in Minnesota that isn’t up until the end of March 2019. My boyfriend’s landlord is the owner of the property, and he is trying to sell the place. The owner has received an offer that he would like to accept. The owner reached out to my boyfriend recently, asking him to be out of the home several months early. The landlord said he would not charge him one month’s rent.
My boyfriend responded with a request for relocation assistance in order to vacate that soon. The landlord is offering only $260 to relocate.
The lease has been thoroughly reviewed by multiple people, and there is no clause supporting the landlord’s desire to end the tenancy early due to selling the property. Can my boyfriend’s landlord require him to leave even though his lease isn’t up until March?
A: Since your boyfriend signed a fixed-term lease through March 2019, the owner/landlord cannot require him to move out sooner unless your boyfriend has violated the lease terms or there is a clause in his lease permitting the landlord to do so. Under Minnesota law, a new buyer takes ownership of the property subject to any leases that were signed prior to the sale. Since your boyfriend has not violated the terms of his lease, and you stated there is no language in the lease that allows for terminating the lease early due to a sale or other reason, then your boyfriend’s lease cannot be terminated early unless he agrees to it. If the owner still decides to sell the place, the buyer has to allow your boyfriend to live there until the lease term ends.
Your boyfriend should contact the owner and let him know that, based on the lease, your boyfriend doesn’t need to move out until March 2019. However, your boyfriend could work out a better agreement with the owner to move out sooner, such as more relocation money and more time to find another place. If your boyfriend enters into an agreement with the current owner or the new owner, make sure he gets any agreement in writing and signed by both parties.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.