Lease renewals typically come up at least once a year. At the same time, people move and sign new leases all the time. The Edina real estate lawyers at Morris Law Group want to help answer your residential lease questions so you feel comfortable making the right decisions for you.
We know that not all landlords are slumlords. And not all tenants are irresponsible. Our real estate attorneys understand that every situation is different. We have successfully helped landlords through evictions, security deposits, unpaid rent, and other matters that come with owning a rental property.
At the same time, we have represented tenants’ property rights in lease agreements, evictions, lease modifications, property maintenance, repairs, and safety, housing discrimination, and more.
What exactly does your lease say? Do you understand the terms? Here are the Top 5 things to look at when signing a new lease or renewing a residential lease:
1. Notice Period for early termination
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to terminating your lease early. For instance, do your lease even have a provision for how much advance notice must be given before ending tenancy?
If there is no provision, Minnesota law provides that written notice must be received by the other party at least one full rental period before the last day of tenancy (the day before the last rent payment is due).
For example, say you have a month-to-month periodic tenancy. You pay on the first day of each month, and have decided to move out on October 31. That means you need to inform the landlord in writing about your decision on or before September 30. If you have questions about crafting a letter of notice, the attorneys at Morris Law Group are available to help you. Call us at 952.832.2000.
Keep in mind that no matter what day in October you decide to leave, you as the tenant are responsible for paying rent for the entire month of October.
If you do have provisions – or a definite term lease – then you may be required to pay the entirety of the lease when you seek to break it early. This could, of course, be offset by subletting to another tenant, but you need to check with your landlord first. There may even be something written into your lease about subletting the space you are renting.
Whatever the case, your may be required to pay a fee to break your lease, which can be a set amount and can also include your security deposit.
Typically, definite term leases explain what kinds of notice you need to give and how far in advance (30, 60 or maybe even 90 days) you must provide it.
In addition, if there is no provision for what happens when the lease ends, the lease could be considered expired. You then become a holdover tenant, and your lease is renewed on a month-to-month basis.
An exception to these is made for victims of violence. Minnesota law grants victims of domestic violence, criminal sexual conduct or stalking the right to terminate a residential lease agreement under certain conditions. If you feel that this applies to you or a loved one, the attorneys at Morris Law Firm can help you navigate the steps that need to be taken in order to vacate a lease.
2. Entry rights of landlord
You as the tenant can expect a certain amount of privacy in your residence. In most cases, a landlord can only enter a tenant’s leased space for a “reasonable business” purpose. And even then, Minnesota law requires landlords to make a good faith effort to give reasonable notice.
There are several examples of “reasonable business” purposes, and the attorneys at Morris Law Firm are available to explain and help you understand them. Give us a call today at 952.832.2000.
If a landlord violates this law, the tenant can take legal action to break the lease, recover deposits and possibly receive a financial civil penalty based on the number of violations committed by the landlord.
While a tenant’s right to prior notice can’t be waived in a residential lease, a landlord may enter the leased space without giving proper notice in three situations:
- When immediate entry is necessary to prevent injury to persons or property because of conditions relating to maintenance, building security, or law enforcement.
- When immediate entry is necessary to determine a tenant’s safety.
- When immediate entry is necessary to comply with state law or local ordinances.
In addition, if a landlord enters without providing prior notice and the tenant is not home at the time, the landlord must still give written notice to the tenant after the fact.
3. Late Fee Maximum
Most residential leases are very specific when it comes to rental payment, and the rent must be paid on the date it is due.
When a tenant is late on their rent, the landlord has the right to start eviction proceedings.
Minnesota law says a tenant cannot be charged a late fee if the rent is paid after the due date, unless the tenant and landlord have agreed – in writing – that a late fee may be imposed. The agreement must specify when the late fee will be charged.
In addition, in Minnesota, the maximum amount of the late fee cannot be more than 8% of the overdue rent payment, unless the tenancy is part of a federal program.
4. Default provisions
What is it to default on a lease? To default on a lease refers to the tenant’s failure to pay rent in a timely manner or when it is due.
When this happens, is not uncommon for a landlord to use the tenant’s security deposit to remedy rent payment defaults. However, a landlord is required to give the tenant notice of default before starting eviction proceedings or applying the security deposit to the payment in default.
If you are concerned about what provisions your landlord has written into your lease concerning default provisions, contact the attorneys at Morris Law Firm at 952.832.2000
and we will be happy to assist you. We provide advice for tenants and landlords on lease modifications, dispute resolution, evictions, liabilities, and property management.
5. Maintenance liabilities
What does your lease state when it comes to maintenance liabilities? What is your landlord required to do? And what you can do when they don’t perform?
Minnesota law is pretty clear when it comes to maintenance of a rental unit. The landlord is responsible for making sure the leased space is:
Fit to live in
- Kept in “reasonable” repair
- Kept up in compliance with local and state health and safety laws
- Made “reasonably” energy efficient to the extent that energy savings will exceed the costs the upgrading efficient
These are the landlord’s obligations that cannot be waived. If your landlord isn’t currently or has a history on not making necessary repairs, call the attorneys at Morris Law Firm today at 952.832.2000.
In some cases, a tenant can take on some of the repair and maintenance duties if both the tenant and landlord agree – again, in writing – that the tenant will do the work; and if the tenant receives payment, either in the form of reduction in rent or direct payment from the landlord.
If you are about to review or are in the process of reviewing your lease renewal and have questions, call us today: 952.832.2000. Real estate law is one of Morris Law Group’s specialities. That area of practice includes purchase agreements, title reviews, evictions, buyer and seller representation, property tax appeals, business and residential lease drafting, dispute resolution, financing, lien claims, property zoning and more.
About Morris Law Group
Morris Law Group is an Edina, Minnesota-based law firm providing cost-effective client services in the areas of real estate, business development, commercial litigation and more. Founded in 2002 by Richard L. Morris, the firm’s experienced and skilled attorneys fight for our clients until a positive outcome is reached.
We believe that relationships matter, whether a client is trying to navigate a purchase agreement, get a business off the ground, or dissolve a partnership. Our lawyers appear regularly in state and federal court, in administrative hearings, and in various alternative dispute resolution forums, including mediation and arbitration. And they do it all with a personal touch that only a law firm focused on community and teamwork can bring.
Morris Law Group is the best Minnesota law firm for all of your real estate and business legal needs. We advocate for our clients with professionalism, empathy, and with a results-driven approach.