Q: I was showing an apartment to a prospective tenant, but the family did not speak English. Since they spoke Spanish, I had my son provide some translation. I use the Minnesota State Bar Association lease recommended by HOMELine. However, I do not see the lease available in any other language. Legal forms are highly specific where the location of a comma could change the meaning.
As a landlord in Minnesota, must I make reasonable accommodations to provide information in the native language of the prospective tenants looking at my rental units? Should my written lease be translated? Is it appropriate for me to provide the translator, or is this the tenant's responsibility?
A: Minnesota has a diverse population, but currently there is no law here requiring landlords to provide rental applications or leases in Spanish or different languages other than English. As a landlord, you cannot discriminate against any prospective or current tenants, but you are not required to provide information in another language.
Some states may require it based on their state contract law or landlord tenant laws, but Minnesota is not one of them. If the lease is negotiated in Spanish, Korean, Chinese or any other language, then it would most likely be required to be written in that specific language.
As a landlord, you are not required to provide a translator, but if you have Spanish-speaking tenants it would be a nice gesture. As a prospective tenant in Minnesota where English is the main language, it would be the tenant's responsibility if they so choose, to have a translator present.
Since you knew they were coming in, and your son was able to provide translation for the renters, that worked out well.
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. Information provided by readers is not confidential.