Q: I am a landlord in Minneapolis and had a tenant rent an apartment from me for only two months last year, before he left and moved in with his girlfriend. The tenant contacted me recently requesting a Certificate of Rent Paid (CRP) form. If my tenant stayed only two months, then broke the lease, do I still need to send him a CRP form?
A: If you own rental property and rent living space to someone, then you or your managing agent must provide a CRP to each of your tenants if property tax was payable in 2018 on your property, or if you were not required to pay property tax but you made payments in lieu of property taxes. If your property is tax-exempt and you did not make payments in lieu of property taxes, then you do not have to provide CRPs to your renters. The length of time your tenant rented from you does not matter. You are required to provide one CRP form to each unmarried tenant and one CRP form for each married couple by Jan. 31, 2019. The Minnesota Department of Revenue is responsible for issuing these forms and for the Renters’ Credit tax refund program. You can reach the department at its website: revenue.state.mn.us or by phone Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 651-296-3781, or toll-free at 1-800-652-9094. The department provides four copies of the CRP form to landlords every year, and will mail them to you automatically if you ask to be on their mailing list. You also can get copies of the CRP form from the department’s website, or file electronically by using a software product, but you’ll need to contact customer support for the software product you choose if you have questions about it, since the department doesn’t offer technical assistance. Owners and landlords cannot withhold a CRP form if their tenants are behind on rent, or if their tenants stay only a short time, but the form should include only the amount of rent the tenant actually paid during the previous year.
Splitting security deposit
Q: I rented an apartment to an unmarried couple. At the end of last month, the guy informed me that he had moved out, but that his girlfriend and baby were still living in the apartment. He put his 30-day notice in before the start of the month and paid the next month’s rent for the apartment. He is inquiring about the return of the security deposit. I do not believe the girlfriend will be able to come up with a security deposit if I refund part of it to him. However, I want to do what is required by law.
A: Since one of your tenants gave proper notice and ended the lease, the lease ends, even though another tenant still lives in the unit. You must return the security deposit within 21 days, minus any debt that is still owed to you, such as unpaid rent or utility bills, or to cover damages to the apartment beyond ordinary wear and tear. Your remaining tenant may want to get another roommate, which would allow you to collect a security deposit from the new tenant. Any event that ends the lease requires the return of the security deposit, even if some tenants remain in the unit or sign a new lease with you. You can, of course, discuss a division of the deposit, in which the remaining tenant keeps half the deposit, and the other half is returned to the departing tenant. Make sure to confirm any such agreement in a signed agreement or written letter so that you are protected.
HomeLine, a nonprofit organization, produces a book, “The Landlord’s Guide to Minnesota Law,” that can assist landlords with these types of questions. You can order the book in hard copy or digitally at: homelinemn.org/publications/landlordsguidetomnlaw/. I am not compensated for recommending this book, but I strongly believe it can help you with many of the issues you encounter as a landlord in Minnesota.
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.