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Tenants may sleep from sun to sun, but a landlord's job ...

The Twin Cities apartment market has been doing well over the past few years. Add the demand for apartments to the low interest rate for mortgages, and you come up with a lot of opportunity for investors. The strong market means, too, that companies and individuals with just one or two properties can expand their holdings.

The picture changes a little when you own more than a couple of properties or a building with dozens of units. Generally, it's more work than one person can handle, and hiring a building manager is the obvious solution. Landlords need to understand that hiring a new manager is more complicated than hiring someone to mow the lawn or even to clean the common areas.

Landlords have the right to enter a tenant's apartment for a "reasonable business purpose." If the landlord hands that right off to the apartment manager, the tenants deserve some assurances that the manager will respect their rights to privacy and will not put them or their property at greater risk of harm.

In Minnesota, landlords must perform criminal background checks on a new manager or any other individual who has access to the individual apartments. The rule of thumb is, if the employee has keys to a tenant's residence, a background check is a necessary.

The Minnesota statute includes a list of crimes that absolutely bar a landlord from making the hire if less than 10 years has passed since the discharge of the sentence. These "do not hire" crimes are first and second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, sexual misconduct, arson and stalking. It is important to note that the conviction may be for the crime or for attempting the crime.

There are consequences for failing to follow the law. The statute makes it clear that a landlord who intentionally skips the background check could be convicted of a petty misdemeanor. In some circumstances, tenants may be able to break their leases.

Being a landlord is a big job. It may be wise to consult with an attorney before taking on the responsibility.

Source: Minnesota Statutes §299C.66 "Property Manager Background Check," current as of July 2014, via Westlaw 

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