Q: I live in a small apartment building and have received my W-2 from my employer. I'm just waiting on my Certificate of Rent Paid (CRP) from my landlord. When does my landlord need to get this to me?
A: In Minnesota, landlords must provide a CRP to each renter if property tax was payable in 2020 or if the property is tax-exempt but the landlord made payments in place of property taxes. Property owners, landlords or managing agents must issue one CRP to each adult renter by Jan. 31, 2021, for any rent paid in 2020. Rent is any amount paid for the right to occupy a rental unit as the renter's principal residence even if the amount is not stated in an agreement or lease. Landlords must give each adult living in the unit a separate CRP even if their name isn't on the lease or if a renter lived in the space for less than one month, but paid some rent. Landlords may send the CRP as an electronic or hard copy. If you've moved recently, the CRP is sent to your last known address. If you still haven't received your CRP by the end of February, you should contact your landlord and request one. If your landlord fails to provide you with a CRP, you should request a Rent Paid Affidavit (RPA) form from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094 (toll-free), or via e-mail: email@example.com. There are instructions on the RPA for completing the form.
Health care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living, have different requirements for issuing CRPs to their residents. For additional questions regarding CRPs, go to the state's website at www.revenue.state.mn.us or call the numbers above.
Q: My girlfriend's family inherited a house in Minneapolis. After cleaning it the family decided to rent to a family with the understanding that no pets are allowed. There is a no-pets clause in their lease, too. My girlfriend's family is highly allergic. The renters later called to get permission to get a kitten, and my girlfriend's family told them it was OK. Then the renters required some maintenance work, and while the work was being done, the workers noticed a second cat. The family did not ask if they could have another cat. The renters have now moved out, but my girlfriend's family wants to withhold $200 from their security deposit for duct cleaning. Can they do this, due to their allergies? Also, is there a book for landlords that teaches them what they can and cannot do? Is there a book for renters about what they can and cannot do?
A: In Minnesota, every landlord must, within 21 days after the tenancy ends, return the security deposit to the tenant with interest or send a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding the entire or partial deposit. The landlord is allowed to withhold only those amounts reasonably necessary to restore the place to its condition when the tenancy started, excluding ordinary wear and tear.
Typically for a pet that the landlord allowed after the tenancy started, when there is no formal agreement and no pet deposit, the landlord is able to charge for any damages the animals caused. Duct cleaning isn't a typical charge deducted from the security deposit when there are no pets, unless there is an agreement. However, with the landlord's family being highly allergic, and the tenants adding another cat without approval, it would be appropriate for the landlord to deduct $200 for duct cleaning and let the tenants know why. It's not illegal to charge for duct cleaning. If the tenants dispute the duct-cleaning charge, then your girlfriend's family can argue they didn't agree to two cats living in the home, and wouldn't have, based on their allergies.
There is a book for tenants, "How to be the Smartest Renter on Your Block," and another for landlords, "The Landlord's Guide to Minnesota Law." Both are written by HOMELine, a tenants' rights organization, and can be purchased online, https://homelinemn.org/?s=book or by calling 612-728-5767. I do not receive any compensation for mentioning these books or from any sale of these books. I highly recommend both books since the authors are experts in landlord/tenant law.
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.