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Q I have owned three rental properties for five years and have always written into the lease that the tenant is responsible for lawn care and snow removal.

Until now, I've never had a problem with that. My current tenant tells me that I should be paying them or taking money off of rent to compensate them for this service. Is this true? If so, how do I handle this now that the lease is signed and they agreed to lawn care and snow removal without any discussion of payment?

A Minnesota Statute 504B.161 provides that a landlord and tenant can agree that a tenant may perform maintenance only if there is a conspicuous written agreement supported by adequate consideration.

Most of the time when the lease provides that a tenant perform lawn care and snow removal, there is a clause in the lease that indicates that the value of this service is a certain amount per month, and that this amount will be deducted from the rent.

There is no easy way to get around the statute if you already have a written lease. You could go to the tenant and have them sign something indicating they will perform lawn care and snow removal, and then agree to pay them an appropriate amount.

The riskier way would be to have them sign something saying they will perform the services, and then recognize that they are already receiving a rent rebate in exchange for their agreement to perform the services. Whether the tenant would sign such an agreement, and whether it would be legally enforceable, are questionable.

Q I have been renting for more than 15 years and have moved 10 times, and this will be the first time I've had to move in and out in one day. Are there rules about when a tenant must vacate and when they can occupy the new place?

Originally I was told I'd be able to move in a couple days early and that the rent would be prorated for the two days. Now he's saying the tenant will be staying through month's end and that the painters and crew will be in after that.

My current landlady is saying we need to be out one day before month's end, even though we've paid for the whole month. Is she allowed to "short" us one day?

I thought we had to be packed up, get the place cleaned and have our walk-through before noon on the last day of the month, and that our new landlord had to let us move in no later than noon. Am I mistaken?

A Usually the lease ends at 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the month. So for August, the lease would end at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 31.

Sometimes there are specific clauses in leases that govern move-out, identifying when a tenant has to move.

In addition, sometimes a lease term begins on a certain day, and the rent and other obligations are targeted to that specific day.

So if a lease begins on the 14th of the month, and that is when rent is due each month, then the move-out date is 11:59 p.m. on the 13th of the month.

Because neither of those instances is applicable in this situation, I think you should contact your landlord about the possibility of staying until the last day of the month.

Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein. If you have questions concerning renting, you can e-mail her at, post your questions at or write in care of Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488.

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