Q I recently moved to a new apartment and got bed bugs from the previous tenant. The landlord is handling the situation well, calling an exterminator and taking care of the bugs. However, the process is taking weeks, and I can't live in such an environment until the exterminators come to clean the apartment in over a week.
What are the appropriate actions to take in terms of living in the apartment? Should I stay in a hotel and demand compensation until the bed bugs are gone? Are there any other options?
A You have the right to demand that your landlord take action to resolve the issue. Under Minnesota law, the landlord has to remedy such problems.
For longer-term problems, the tenant has the right to bring a rent escrow action if the problem is not remedied in 14 days. For situations involving immediate concerns relating to the loss of essential services, the tenant has the right to bring an emergency tenants' remedy action.
The procedure is similar to the procedure in a rent escrow action, except that tenants need give the landlord only 24 hours' notice of their intent to proceed with such an action, as opposed to 14 days.
The housing court office in the county where you live has the necessary forms for you to proceed. There are also lawyers and tenants rights organizations, such as Homeline, who can help you with the procedure.
Do not expect the landlord to pay for a hotel unless you have something in writing from him or her, agreeing to make payment. If you simply go to a hotel, your only option is to bring a conciliation court action later if the landlord refuses to cover that cost.
Q I am a condo owner, and there is a leak into my unit during heavy rain. I have received no response from the management company after two phone calls and a follow-up letter. Do I have the same rights as a renter to demand remedial action within 14 days and subsequently pursue an escrow action for my association fees if no response is forthcoming?
A As a condo owner, you do not have the right to pursue a rent escrow action. The bylaws for your association should clearly spell out who is responsible for repairing leaks, and the association should also have insurance to cover issues like this, as well.
You should send a letter to your condo board and management company alerting them to the problem in your unit, mentioning that there has been no response and asking for some communication on this issue. A damaged, leaky unit affects the entire complex, so that should be repaired as soon as possible. Also, you are paying association dues that cover the fees for the management company, so they should be more responsive in getting back to you.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein. If you have questions concerning renting, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, post your questions at www.star tribune.com/kellyklein or write in care of Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488.