HousingLink Blog

Proper Application Fee Procedures

by Josh Dye  |  Aug 27, 2018, 15:43 PM

If you collect an application fee, by MN state law you must:

1. Provide your rental criteria in writing.

What income, credit, criminal, and/or rental history requirements must a renter meet to live at your property? Provide this to all potential applicants in writing. Some landlords put this on the back of an application, or hand it to prospective renters on a separate document. 

2. Provide the contact information of the screening company in writing.

If you use a tenant screening company, you must provide their name, adddress, and telephone number to the applicant in writing.

3. Accept or deny applicants on a first come, first served basis.

You cannot collect multiple applications from prospective renters and then choose the best one. You may only accept one application fee at a time, and accept or reject the applicant based on whether or not they meet your rental criteria that was provided in writing.

4. Notify rejected applicants of the criteria they did not meet.

Did you deny an applicant? You must notify them within 14 days the criteria they failed to meet.

5. Refund the application fee if the applicant is denied for any reason not listed in the written screening criteria.

Did you reject the applicant for a reason that was not listed in the criteria you provided in writing? Then you must refund the application fee.

6. Only charge a fee equal to what it costs you to obtain the screening report.

If the screening company charges you $50 for the report, you can charge a $50 application fee. If they charge you $25, you can charge $25. In other words, you may only cover your costs.

7. Provide a written receipt for the application fee.

If a landlord violates this procedure, he or she is liable to the applicant the amount of the screening fee, plus a civil penalty up to $100, civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees incurred to enforce this remedy.

If an applicant provides materially false information on the application or omits material information requested, he is she is liable to the landlord for damages, plus a civil penalty up to $500, civil court filing costs, and reasonable attorney fees. 

Tenant Responsibility During Winter

by Josh Dye  |  Aug 27, 2018, 15:41 PM

Tenant must give cold weather notice before vacating

Except upon termination of the tenancy, a tenant who abandons or vacates a building that contains plumbing, water, steam, or other pipes liable to damage from freezing, without first giving the landlord three days' notice of intention to move, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Read the law here.

Beyond Section 8 Vouchers: Other Voucher Programs Landlords May Encounter

by Josh Dye  |  Aug 27, 2018, 15:40 PM

A number of rental assistance programs other than Section 8 Vouchers exist to help low income people. Understanding the differences can help landlords decide which programs they will consider.

Buckle up! Here are some common Tenant Based Rental Assistance programs in Minnesota (other than Section 8):

VASH Vouchers

Individuals served: Homeless veterans

How it works: Veterans receive rental assistance from local housing authorities with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  These services are provided at VA medical centers and community-based outreach clinics. Renters pay 30% of their income for the rent.


Individuals served: Mentally ill

How it works: Individuals with chronic and persistent mental illnesses receive rental assistance from local housing authorities and supportive services from mental health providers.  Renters pay 30% of their income for the rent.

Shelter + Care

Individuals served: Homeless with disabilities, serious mental illness, AIDS, and chronic problems with alcohol and/or drugs.
How it works: Individuals receive rental assistance and supportive services from nonprofit organizations or community mental health agencies. A landlord can lease the unit directly to the renter or lease it to the nonprofit agency. Renters pay 30% of their income for the rent.

There are also other programs where nonprofits access state and federal funds to implement rent assistance programs. Sometimes these programs serve specific populations like veterans, those with mental illness or long-term homelessness. In other cases the only qualification is to have a low income.

Increase the Life of Your Pavement & Parking Lot

by Josh Dye  |  Aug 27, 2018, 15:37 PM

With proper maintenance, parking lots are designed for a 20 year life cycle. But Minnesota weather is brutal! Here are some tips from Civil Engineer Matt Duenwald of MFRA, Inc. to increase the life and look of your pavement.

Isolated Potholes

Potholes occur because of abrupt changes in freeze/thaw cycles. The most common way to address this repair is to saw cut around the pothole, repair the aggregate sub-base below the pavement if necessary, and patch with approximately 3 1/2 inches of new asphalt. Timely pothole repair will add 3-6 years to the pavement life.

Asphalt Overlay

If a large area of the parking lot needs repair, asphalt overlay is a cost effective solution. Here is how it works: The existing parking lot is milled 1"-2" and a new 1"-2" lift of asphalt is put in place. Small defections and cracks are sealed where the pavement was milled before the new asphalt is put in to place.

Seal Coating

Seal coating protects the pavement from sun and water. You should seal coat every 3-5 years as part of a maintenance plan. Seal coat is used to waterproof the surface to keep out water, sunlight, gasoline, oil, and de-icers. It seals small cracks and reduces oxidation of the pavement surface. This also improves the aesthetics of the pavement.

Resolving Conflict with Renters

by Josh Dye  |  Aug 27, 2018, 15:33 PM

Conflict with renters often happens when the rent is not paid, or there are behavior issues. Sometimes these problems point towards something larger happening in a person's life. 

As a landlord, it is helpful to know of programs in the community where you can refer renters who need help. Sometimes this means the difference between a costly eviction and having a long-term tenant. 

One of these programs is called the Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP).

It provides short-term assistance to people who are at risk of becoming homeless. The assistance generally takes the form of payments to cover rent or utility costs to prevent an eviction.

Take a look at the FHPAP program in your county