How to Report a Landlord in Minnesota for Unsafe Living Conditions
May 16, 2023
If a rental property in Minnesota fails to meet legally required health and safety standards, tenants have the right to report their landlord to local public officials who may choose to follow up, inspect the property and cite the landlord for such violations.
What Are Considered Unsafe Living Conditions in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, unsafe living conditions exist when a rental property doesn’t have safe and working:
Hot and cold potable water.
Required smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Required weatherproofing and door/window seals.
Features required by locally applicable health and safety laws.
After receiving a complaint, an inspecting officer might contact the tenant for more information. Then the officer will usually inspect the property and cite the landlord for any code violations.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Minneapolis?
A tenant in Minneapolis can report a health or safety violation by calling Minneapolis 311 at (612) 673-3000 or using the providedonline form. Enter contact and location information, detail the complaint, and submit. Note that tenants of single-family dwellings should use the alternativeprivate property form.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in St. Paul?
A tenant in St. Paul can report a health or safety violation by using theonline formprovided by the Department of Safety and Inspections. Most issues will fall under “Property Maintenance.” Describe the issue, provide location and contact information, and submit.
How Can a Tenant Report a Health or Safety Violation in Rochester?
A tenant in Rochester can report a health or safety violation by calling 311 Services at (585) 428-5990 or using the providedonline form. Enter contact information, search for the correct location, detail the issue, and submit.
What Could Happen to a Landlord After a Complaint Is Made in Minnesota?
Landlords have to fix any violations found after a tenant files a complaint about unsafe living conditions in Minnesota. Otherwise, the landlord could be fined, local government might file to condemn the property, or the tenant might begin rent escrow payments.
“In every lease or license of residential premises, the landlord or licensor covenants… that the premises and all common areas are fit for the use intended by the parties… [and] to keep the premises in reasonable repair during the term of the lease or license, except when the disrepair has been caused by the willful, malicious, or irresponsible conduct of the tenant or licensee or a person under the direction or control of the tenant or licensee.”
There isn’t a statewide heating code or a statewide standard for habitable plumbing, but local Minnesota jurisdictions do individually set requirements. For example: “The law does not allow tenants to remain in a dwelling that lacks basic services (heat, light, water)… the St. Paul Property Maintenance Code requires the landlord to maintain the heat at 68 degrees at 5 feet above the floor in any part of the apartment.”
While the state statute only specifies compliance with local codes, which obviously vary by jurisdiction, the Minnesota Supreme Court has suggested universally relevant habitability factors: “[I]ssues, including damage to the bathroom floor, kitchen cabinets, and bedroom ceiling from a water leak; cracks in the walls; peeling paint; broken window seals; and windows that were painted or glued shut… an animal running through the ceiling and scratching at the walls… front door entrance to the duplex, which did not lock and barely closed… back stairs, which were held together by a cord, and the side rail on the front stairs, which was weakly attached to the stairs.”
“In every lease or license of residential premises, the landlord or licensor covenants… to make the premises reasonably energy efficient by installing weatherstripping, caulking, storm windows, and storm doors when any such measure will result in energy procurement cost savings, based on current and projected average residential energy costs in Minnesota, that will exceed the cost of implementing that measure, including interest, amortized over the ten-year period following the incurring of the cost; and to maintain the premises in compliance with the applicable health and safety laws of the state, and of the local units of government where the premises are located during the term of the lease or license, except when violation of the health and safety laws has been caused by the willful, malicious, or irresponsible conduct of the tenant or licensee or a person under the direction or control of the tenant or licensee.”
“Every dwelling unit within a dwelling must be provided with a smoke detector meeting the requirements of the State Fire Code… For all occupancies covered by this section where the occupant is not the owner of the dwelling unit or the guest room, the owner is responsible for maintenance of the smoke detectors. An owner may file inspection and maintenance reports with the local fire marshal for establishing evidence of inspection and maintenance of smoke detectors.”
“[All single-family residences] must have an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes… The occupant of each dwelling unit… must: (1) keep and maintain the device in good repair; and (2) replace any device that is stolen, removed, missing, or rendered inoperable during the occupancy… An owner of a multifamily dwelling that contains minimal or no sources of carbon monoxide may be exempted from the requirements… provided that such owner certifies to the commissioner of public safety that such multifamily dwelling poses no foreseeable carbon monoxide risk to the health and safety of the dwelling units.”
“[T]he residential tenant must give written notice to the landlord specifying the violation. The notice must be delivered personally or sent to the person or place where rent is normally paid. If the violation is not corrected within 14 days, the residential tenant may deposit the amount of rent due to the landlord with the court administrator along with an affidavit specifying the violation.”
Minnesota’s rent escrow statute provides that a tenant can begin depositing rent in escrow after an uncured code violation, as this substitutes for the usual notice requirement via repair request: “For a violation as defined in section 504B.001, subdivision 14, clause (1) [code violations], the residential tenant may deposit with the court administrator the rent due to the landlord along with a copy of the written notice of the code violation as provided in section 504B.185, subdivision 2. The residential tenant may not deposit the rent or file the written notice of the code violation until the time granted to make repairs has expired without satisfactory repairs being made [typically 14 days], unless the residential tenant alleges that the time granted is excessive.”