Proposals Advance in Minnesota House that Could Impact Housing Providers
Posted on April 21, 2021 by Bobbie Guidry
Last week, after a lengthy debate, the Minnesota House approved the Omnibus Housing Bill (HF 1077) on a 69-62 vote. The bill, authored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), includes a variety of budget and policy provisions related to housing and will now move to the Senate, where Sen. Rick Draheim (R-Madison Lake) is the sponsor of the companion bill (SF 969). However, there are stark differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, so lawmakers will likely need a conference committee to work out differences between the two legislative bodies.
Several controversial sections of HF 1077 would modify landlord/tenant law in Minnesota and impact senior housing and assisted living providers.
Creates new prohibited fees
The bill would prohibit nonrefundable fees except for actual services rendered for an optional service offered by the landlord. This change would ban the practice of charging a "community" or "general maintenance" fee upon entry to a community and require that any service charges not be applied should a resident be absent from an assisted living setting during times of transition. The proposed penalty for violation of this section would be three times the amount of each fee imposed that was not for an actual optional service or $500, whichever is greater, and the court may award the tenant reasonable attorney's fees.
Authorizes tenant-initiated lease terminations due to infirmity
The bill would allow a tenant or the authorized representative of the tenant to terminate a lease with two months' notice before the expiration of the lease if a medical professional has found the tenant needs to move into a medical care facility. This provision likely will not significantly impact residents in senior living settings, as most providers in these settings utilize month-to-month leases. However, the provision may be helpful for prospective residents that need to terminate a lease before moving into a senior living setting.
Right of counsel
The bill provides a right to counsel appointed by the court for a defendant in public housing subject to an eviction action alleging breach of the lease under section 504B.171 or 504B.285 who is financially unable to obtain counsel.
New notice requirement for evictions due to nonpayment|
Another section of the bill adds a requirement that before bringing an eviction action alleging nonpayment of rent, a landlord must provide written notice to the residential tenant specifying the basis for a future eviction action. The bill contains specific notice content and time frames before an eviction can be initiated and allows a tenant to correct the rent delinquency. This provision likely implicates nursing homes and senior living providers.
The bill delineates what professionals may provide an order for a service or support animal and what documentation can be requested by the landlord. The bill also defines reasonable accommodation related to service or support animals and prohibits a tenant from misrepresenting themselves as having a disability or falsifying documentation of the need for a service or support animal.
LeadingAge Minnesota and the LTC Imperative will be working with legislators as this legislation moves to a conference committee to express concerns about potential unintended impacts on senior care providers.