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Renting and the law: Identifying problem tenants

  • Article by: KELLY KLEIN
  • May 24, 2013 - 1:00 PM

Q: I am a landlord wondering about eviction records and how they can affect a tenant’s ability to rent in the future. Where is a tenant’s eviction recorded, and how can a tenant’s future landlord find out who has been evicted?

What if a tenant moves out in the middle of the night, several months before the end of their lease, leaving no forwarding address? Is there anywhere a landlord can publish that information, so a future landlord has some notice of this tenant’s behavior?

A: If an eviction is never filed with the court, then it doesn’t get reported in a tenant’s rental history. Once the eviction action is filed with the court, it becomes a matter of public record and shows up on a rental-history background check. A tenant’s prospective landlord can run a background check on the prospective tenant, and any past evictions will appear on the tenant’s credit report.

If a tenant moves out in the middle of the night, but still has several months remaining on the lease, there’s no eviction filed. However, the landlord may sue in conciliation court to recover rent owed on the remaining months of the lease or other amounts the tenant owes. Once the landlord has filed a conciliation court claim, that action becomes part of the public record and will appear on the tenant’s background check.

Absent a public filing, nothing becomes a matter of public record that can be searched. Sometimes a tenant will list prior addresses on an application, or a background check will show prior addresses for the tenant, and the agent conducting the check may then contact the owner of that property to obtain information about the tenant’s rental history. That information is usually saved by the agency conducting the background check.

Interest on security deposit

Q: I’ve been renting a place for almost 10 years. The landlord does not wish to renew my lease because he wants his daughter and her family to move in. Does the landlord have to pay interest on the security deposit that I gave him when I moved in?

A: The amount of interest a landlord needs to pay on security deposits has changed over the past 10 years. Under Minnesota law, a landlord is to pay 3 percent interest on deposits until Aug. 1, 2003, and then 1 percent thereafter. The interest need not be compounded.

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 kklein@kleinpa.com, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.

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