Q: I have a few questions regarding rental code violations or disciplinary actions against landlords. In the Twin Cities area is it possible to find out if a specific landlord has been subject to fines, disciplinary action, etc., in connection with their rental properties? If so, does one find this information at the county level?
Also, do you need to know all of the property addresses, LLCs, etc., that correspond to a single landlord in order to get the full picture? Is having the landlord's name sufficient? Is it possible to file anonymous complaints against a landlord?
A: In Minnesota, most court actions against landlords are public record, so you can go to the Hennepin County courthouse, Ramsey County courthouse, or any other Minnesota county courthouse where the landlord's rental property is located and look up court files on these types of actions.
The different Minnesota county housing courts hear and decide cases involving landlord and tenant disputes, which include but aren't limited to claims for rent abatement, rent escrow proceedings, eviction actions and actions for violations of state, county or city housing codes. You would only need the landlord's name or the landlord's business name to look up any cases at the county courthouse in the county where the rental property is located. The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has a Minnesota Tenant Report Form you can complete if you have a complaint or concern with a Minnesota landlord.
If a tenant wants to remain anonymous so the landlord cannot discover who complained, then you'd need to make that request to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office when you're completing the form. Remember, it is illegal for any landlord to retaliate against a tenant for asserting their rights by filing a complaint.
You can also look up code violations at the city level in Minneapolis available online by inserting the landlord's property address into the Regulatory Services Violations Dashboard after clicking on the blue link.
Another way for tenants to report issues concerning the inside or outside of their rental unit, and for others to look up rental properties that may have issues, is to contact Minneapolis 311 either by dialing 311 or 612-673-3000, or send an email to Minneapolis311@minneapolismn.gov.
When you go to the following site at minneapolismn.gov/report-an-issue and click on the rental unit issues, it will take you to a rental tenant complaint site, but indicates the person who makes the complaint is kept confidential and will not be released to the public.
At the 311 Property complaint dashboard you can also view housing complaints over the past year sent to Regulatory Services.
The city of St. Paul also has a complaint process on the city's website as do other cities in the Twin Cities area. Court records are maintained by the county and rental licensing records are maintained by the city.
Q: On Aug. 28, my landlord gave me a 60-day notice to vacate the premises, stating that I have until or before Oct. 31 to be completely moved out. If I am moved out before Oct. 1, do I have to pay rent for October? I have told my landlord that I will be out before Oct. 1.
A: If you have a six-month or a one-year lease that ends on Oct. 31, then you need to pay your October rent. If you don't have a lease, then you're considered to be on a month-to-month periodic lease, which would allow you to give a one-month's written notice to your landlord in order to terminate your lease on Sept. 30.
You indicated that you "told" your landlord you would be out by Oct. 1. However, you would have had to send a notice in writing, by letter or email to your landlord, that they received on or before Aug. 31, to be considered adequate notice to terminate your lease at the end of September and remove the obligation to pay October rent.
You can always talk to your landlord and try to work out some other arrangement, but make sure to put any agreement in writing and get it signed by both parties.
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 email@example.com. Information provided by readers is not confidential.