Q Are there any laws concerning the notification of tenants when a parking lot is going to be plowed and cars need to be moved? Is a sign posted on an entrance door 24 hours in advance considered adequate notice? Is there any recourse for a tenant who has been charged a substantial towing fee?
A There are no specific laws regarding notifying tenants when a parking lot is going to be plowed and cars towed. But the notice has to be reasonable.
Under Minnesota Statute 504B.161, landlords have a duty to maintain the property. In Minnesota, when it snows, property owners can be held liable for injuries if they fail to remove the snow from all public walkways and parking lots within 24 hours. Sometimes that means the landlord has to remove snow from a parking lot, and it is hard to give advance notice when a storm blows in at 10 p.m.
Many readers face this predicament, but, unfortunately, there is little that can be done.Where to begin
Q I recently purchased a duplex in Minneapolis and I am renovating the upper unit. I am the owner and will occupy the lower unit. What paperwork do I need to have in place prior to renting? Where can I find all of these forms?
I want to do this right the first time in order to protect myself, so I'm basing this question on all of your renters' questions. Since I am living in the lower unit and offering the other half of my home to a stranger, I need to know what my legal rights are.
I remember the Michael Keaton movie "Pacific Heights," in which homeowners refurbished their home and rented to a bizarre tenant who trashes the place. This is a huge investment, so I don't want to follow in their footsteps.
A The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has a great document, "Landlord and Tenant: Rights and Responsibilities." You can obtain it at www.ag.state.mn.us.
Minneapolis requires that you obtain a license, and the city has particular procedures you need to follow. You should contact the city's housing office to obtain the necessary material.
You can hire an attorney to draft a lease, purchase a draft lease on the Internet or from a landlord organization, such as the Minnesota Multi Housing Association (www.mmha.com). The association has lots of great information for landlords. You might consider joining the organization, too, so you can familiarize yourself with landlord issues.
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, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.