Minnesota Tenant Screening
Last Updated: January 14, 2015
The name Minnesota comes from the Dakota word for clear blue water. Owing to its large number of lakes, the state is informally known as The Land of 10,000 Lakes.
How to Screen a Tenant in the State of Minnesota
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, Minnesota has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the 2014 Minnesota Statutes Chapter 504b on the Minnesota Office Of The Revisor Of Statutes website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
- Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Minnesota
- Minnesota Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities Handbook
Recent Law Changes
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Owner Or Agent Identity: Minnesota landlords must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving notices and demands. (Minn. Stat. Ann. 504B.181)
- Outstanding Inspection Orders, Condemnation Orders, Or Declarations That The Property Is Unfit:Minnesota landlords must disclose the existence of any such orders or declarations before the tenant signs a lease or pays a security deposit. (Minn. Stat. Ann. 504B.195)
- Security Deposit: In Minnesota, before collecting rent or a security deposit, landlord must provide a copy of all outstanding inspection orders for which a citation has been issued, pertaining to a rental unit or common area, specifying code violations that threaten the health or safety of the tenant, and all outstanding condemnation orders and declarations that the premises are unfit for human habitation. Citations for violations that do not involve threats to tenant health or safety must be summarized and posted in an obvious place. With some exceptions, landlord who has received notice of a contract for deed cancellation or notice of a mortgage foreclosure sale must so disclose before entering a lease, accepting rent, or accepting a security deposit; and must furnish the date on which the contract cancellation period or the mortgagors redemption period ends. (Minn. Stat. Ann. 504B.175 and 504B.178)
- Buildings In Financial Distress: Minnesota restrictions on residential lease terms for buildings in financial distress requires notice to tenant of pending foreclosure. (504B.151)
- Mold: There are no legal requirements specific to mold in most residential settings. However, Minnesota law (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 504B. Landlord and Tenant) requires that a landlord must provide an apartment that is habitable and in reasonable repair. If an apartment becomes uninhabitable, the landlord has violated or breached the lease.
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for Minnesota:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in Minnesota: MN Bureau Of Criminal Apprehension And Department Of Public Safety, MN Department Of Corrections, MN District Courts, MN Sex Offender Registry.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Istanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake, Lake Of The Woods, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, Mc Leod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, St Louis, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, Wright, Yellow Medicine.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Jackson, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Le Sueur, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Rock, Roseau, Scott, Sherburne, Sibley, St. Louis, Stearns, Steele, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, Wright, Yellow Medicine.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor® include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for Minnesota Landlords
- Minnesota State Bar Association Lawyer Search
- Minnesota Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in Minnesota (Wikipedia)