Q: We inherited an older home that we may want to use as rental property, but it needs some updates. Is there a list stating what needs to be done in order to pass an inspection, which we assume will be necessary before we can rent the house to tenants?
A: The state of Minnesota does not require that your rental home pass an inspection before you rent it out to tenants, but the city where your rental home is located may have additional requirements. Minnesota law imposes basic maintenance requirements on landlords, which include keeping their rental property in compliance with all safety and health codes, in reasonable repair and fit for the use intended.
Many cities in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, require an owner or landlord to obtain a rental license for any rental housing or unit where the owner is not also living, even if no rent is paid or the tenant is a relative. This includes single-family homes and rental units in owner-occupied duplexes, and rooming and shared-bath units (unless they are in a licensed lodging house).
In Minneapolis, if the owner lives in the rental property, a rental license is not required for their roommates. However, the number of roommates who can occupy the rental unit is limited by the Housing Maintenance and Zoning Codes. Since licensing requirements vary by city, you should contact the city where your rental property is located to determine what you need to do to get a rental license.
HomeLine, a tenants' rights organization, has published a practical guidebook for Minnesota landlords called "The Landlord's Guide to Minnesota Law." You can order this book online at: homelinemn.org/publications/landlordsguidetomnlaw/, or by contacting HomeLine's office at 612-255-8862. The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has a handbook called "Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities" that you can request at the state's website: www.ag.state.mn.us/Brochures/pubLandlordTenants.pdf, or by calling 651-296-3353 if you live in the Twin Cities area, or 1-800-657-3787 if you live outside the Twin Cities. I am not compensated in any way for recommending either of these books.
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.