Q: As I prepare to sell my home of over 40 years, I have been reading your "Renting and the Law" column to see if there are any items that may affect me when I move into a senior housing apartment and I am paying rent every month.
I found the fairly recent Certificate of Rent Paid ("CRP") subject interesting. Will I need the CRP forms for my tax purposes? Is "senior housing" treated differently in the rental industry? I know there are many more questions I should ask, but I'm having trouble coming up with more now. Feel free to pass on any information you have regarding senior housing, what us old folks should be aware of and where we can find out pertinent information.
A: You have some exciting changes coming up, so congratulations on selling your home soon and finding a new place to live.
Once you start renting, either in a senior assisted living building, an apartment building or rental home, if you qualify for the renter's property tax refund, then you will need to complete a CRP form each year for tax purposes, which will be given to you by your landlord on or before Jan. 31. You can find out if you qualify, depending on your income and rent paid, by going to the Renter's Property Tax Refund tab on the state's (revenue.state.mn.us). Make sure to check the state's website each year to see if you qualify since the qualifications may change.
In 2023, to qualify you must have a valid Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, you must be a Minnesota resident or have spent at least 183 days in Minnesota. You must have lived in or paid rent on a building in Minnesota where the owner was assessed property tax or made payments instead of property tax, your household income for 2022 was less than $69,520 and you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return.
If you decide to live in senior housing or senior assisted living, Minnesota state law for tenants mainly still applies, but the rules may vary depending on the type of housing you choose since there will be a management team that can assert their own conditions for living there that may differ from an apartment building for people of all ages.
Many landlords in these buildings will require you to follow certain rules, such as how long guests can stay before they're considered tenants living with you, designated smoking or nonsmoking areas, whether pets are allowed and other guidelines. There could be specific visiting hours, along with special services you may want to pay for such as meals provided, medical assistance for dispensing medication or other medical services, transportation services and many more.
However, you will sign up for these services and also sign off on the rules and regulations for the building before you move in, so you will know upfront what is required and what your monthly rental payment covers. If you are in a rental home or an apartment building that caters to people of all ages, the laws that apply to you will be Minnesota state law along with the local codes and ordinances in the city where your rental place is located.
Never rent an apartment or home without first seeing and inspecting the place you will be renting and reviewing the lease before you sign it. Every building and landlord is different, so it's in your best interest to look around at several rentals and make comparisons before committing, in order to make sure it's a good fit for you. You will want to make sure senior assisted living or senior apartment buildings aren't too restrictive for your current lifestyle.
Most landlords will require you to sign a one-year lease, but the lease may have a buyout clause that states if you need to move out for any reason you can terminate your lease early by paying two months' rent. If you do sign a one-year lease, you should review the notice provision for moving out, since your landlord may require you to give them two months' written notice to end your one-year lease.
For example, if your one-year lease ends in May 2024, then your lease may require you to give a full two months' written notice by emailing or writing your landlord so they receive your notice by the end of March 2024 in order for your lease to end in May. However, if there is a two-month written notice requirement to end your one-year lease, that notice provision may not be enforceable under Minnesota law.
The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has written and published a booklet called Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities, which points out topics you'll want to ask your landlord questions about and get answers for regarding a potential rental place before you sign a lease.
Another great resource is HOMELine, a tenants' rights organization, where there are staff and volunteers to assist tenants with legal advice by sending their office an email at: homelinemn.org or calling the tenant hotline at 612-728-5767 and toll-free from Greater Minnesota at 1-866-866-3546. HOMELine also has forms online and publications that can assist tenants and landlords with their questions.
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.