Q: My child was looking at an apartment lease that had some unusual terms. The terms include requirements for a renter to do the following:
• Completely vacate the property by 12 noon on the last day of the lease.
• Provide income and other financial information, not just at application, but also during the course of the lease at the apartment management’s request.
• Purchase insurance (HO-4) that includes liability.
• Indemnify management for any injury or damage to guests or third parties while in the apartment or common areas.
When I reviewed the Minnesota Standard Residential Lease, these terms did not appear anywhere. I realize that the standard lease is not required by landlords, but I thought it was at least a guide for terms that are reasonable for both parties. Are these terms common, and if so, are they enforceable?
A: Although they do not appear in the Minnesota Standard Residential Lease, the items you have listed are fairly common and certainly legal. They are enforceable if your child signs the lease. However, if your child doesn’t feel good about these terms, he or she should negotiate the terms with the landlord and have the disagreeable terms removed from the lease. Make sure to get any new agreement in writing and signed by both parties, or at least cross those items off the lease and have the crossed-out portions initialed by both parties.
‘Heated’ garage isn’t
Q: I have been renting a home in Ramsey, Minn., since Oct. 1, 2014. It was advertised on a Renters Warehouse website as a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a two-car heated garage. When the seasons changed, I tried to turn the heater on in the garage and discovered it doesn’t work. I notified Renters Warehouse, and they notified the homeowners. The homeowner came over to the house and discovered there was a problem. The homeowner then had a contractor come out and service the heater. The contractor got the heater started, but he must have informed the owner that the heater had some additional problems. I then received notification from Renters Warehouse that the homeowners wanted to amend the Lease Agreement to stipulate that I would not use the heater in the garage because the previous tenants misused the heater so it is now not safe to use. One of the main reasons I rented this home was because it was advertised with a heated garage. I believe the owners already knew that the heater in the garage needed repair, so why falsely advertise it? I really need that heater. What recourse, if any, do I have?
A: Under Minnesota law, the landlord or owner promises to keep all areas fit for the intended use by the renter and to keep the rental in reasonable repair during the term of the lease. The parties cannot waive or modify these covenants. It will be difficult to prove the homeowner realized the garage heater wasn’t working, but tried to get you to rent the property anyway. However, since you rented the property based on the heated garage, and there is no longer a heated garage, you should write Renters Warehouse or the homeowner and request that the heater be fixed. Inform the owner that one of the reasons you rented the property was because it had a heated garage, so the owner has a duty to repair the problem. Under state law, the tenant must give written notice to the landlord explaining the repairs that are needed. This letter or notice must be delivered personally or sent to the person or place where rent is normally paid. If the owner doesn’t repair the heater within 14 days, you may file a rent escrow action at your county courthouse by filing an affidavit the court administrator will provide to you, along with a copy of your letter to the owner, and depositing the amount of rent due, if any, with the court administrator. You can also request rent abatement or termination of your lease in the affidavit, based on your need for a heated garage.
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., Suite 1300, Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.