Q: My mother renewed her lease for another year, which started Nov. 1. Her rent increased slightly; she was told it was due to an increase in utilities. Her rent under the lease includes heat, water and garbage, but not electricity, which she pays separately.
When she received her 2018 Certificate of Rent Paid (CRP) form, it did not include the additional rent she paid for November and December. When I added up all 12 of her rent checks, the actual amount she paid doesn't equal the rent paid amount listed on the CRP form. When she asked the manager about it, he said it was because the extra amount was for utilities and not for rent. I think this is strange, since she continues to pay her rent with just one check. If this additional amount is truly for utilities, shouldn't the apartment be asking tenants to pay their rent and additional utilities expense separately?
A: Landlords can require their tenants to pay rent by including their utilities expense in that amount, or by requiring that utilities be paid separately. In Minnesota, landlords must provide each tenant with a CRP form that contains the total amount of rent paid during the calendar year. The amount must include all rent paid for the use of the rental unit, any storage space and garage or parking space. The rent paid amount does not include damage deposits, charges for medical care, food or laundry, late charges or fines, or any delinquent or unpaid rent that is owed.
If your mother's utility bill is separate from her rent, meaning it's not included in the rent bill, then the utilities should not be included in her CRP form's rent paid amount. If the utilities are included as part of the rent payment, then the utilities should be included in the form's rent paid amount. For example, if your mother's rent is $1,000 per month including her utilities, then that amount of $1,000, times the number of months she paid it that year, goes on the CRP form as rent paid, even though utilities are included in that amount. Your mother's manager should not apportion out the amount of utilities your mother paid from the form's rent paid amount, since the utilities are considered part of her rent and therefore should appear on the form.
Your mother should contact the manager to request a corrected CRP form. If the manager refuses, then she can contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue to request a Rent Paid Affidavit (RPA) form. She should make every attempt to get a corrected CRP form from the manager first, before requesting an RPA, since additional paperwork is required by her if there isn't a CRP form. With the affidavit, she will have to file Form M1PR (2018 Homestead Credit Refund for Homeowners and Renter's Property Tax Refund) on paper; she cannot do it electronically. She must include receipts or canceled checks to prove how much rent she paid. To request an RPA from the Minnesota Department of Revenue she should send an e-mail to the following address: email@example.com, or call 651-296-3781, or toll-free 1-800-652-9094.
Landlord wants to raise rent
Q: I own and manage a duplex in St. Paul. The 12-month lease on one of the units ends at 11:59 p.m. July 31. The terms of the lease continue month-to-month if the lease has not been renewed. I plan to raise the rent and change provisions in the annual lease that begins in August. The current lease does not require a 60- or 90-day notification period prior to the date a tenant must vacate. I can see that without a notice to vacate, tenants might think that I'm giving permission for the old lease to continue past July 31. Do I need to provide the tenants with a notice to vacate on July 31 as part of sending them an updated lease next week, or can I wait to post the notice to vacate until the last day of June, if my tenants and I fail to sign a new lease by that time?
A: You should send a letter outlining the new lease terms, including the higher rent, that starts in August. In that letter, request that the tenants meet with you well in advance of July 1 to discuss signing a new lease. If they fail to sign a new lease at that meeting, or tell you that they won't be signing a new lease, then give them a notice to vacate before July 1 that states their lease terminates on July 31, 2019. Remember, if your tenants aren't signing a new lease, their notice to vacate by July 31 needs to be given to them before July 1. So if you are mailing the notice, you have to mail it before June 27, 2019. However, if you are delivering it personally, then the last day of June would suffice.
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, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.