Tenants who are late on their rent will face a maximum 8 percent penalty under a bill signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty Tuesday.

It was one of several provisions in an overhaul of tenant-landlord rules that according to Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, was long overdue.

The law also restricts landlords from collecting screening fees from potential tenants to a one-search-at-a-time basis, and requires landlords to reveal the criteria they use to eliminate potential renters. Both of those provisions will reduce the amount of up-front money people looking to rent housing might have to pay while searching, said Ron Elwood, a staff attorney at the Legal Services Advocacy Project, which worked on the bill.

But would-be tenants also have to toe a new line. Under the new law they'll be liable for civil damages and fines if they lie or leave out key information on their applications.


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