ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - A new law governing the temperature of a rental unit will go into effect beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, for all Minnesotans.
In addition to several new laws taking effect throughout the state, beginning in the new year, a landlord will be required to heat a unit at a minimum temperature of 68 degrees from Oct. 1 through April 30.
In addition to the new mandate, a landlord is responsible for ensuring the rental unit is fit to live in; kept in reasonable repair; kept in compliance with state and local health and safety laws; and made reasonably energy efficient.
The Minnesota Legislature has also developed the Cold Weather Rule to protect a tenant or homeowners from having their heat source permanently disconnected during the same time frame if they have been unable to pay their utility bills.
While the rule does not explicitly prohibit shut-offs, it says a utility must remain reconnected for a customer whose household income is at or below 50% of the state median income – if the customer enters into and makes, "reasonably timely payments under a mutually acceptable payment agreement."
A tenant who experiences problems with a property owner who is not making necessary repairs or who is not providing a unit that is fit to live in can file a complaint with their local housing, health, energy or fire inspector to ask that the unit be inspected. If there is no city inspector for the community, they can write to their property owner, formally requesting repairs within 14 days.
If repairs are not made within that duration, a renter can place their full rent in escrow with a district court, and ask the court to order the property owner to make repairs. They can also sue under the Tenant’s Remedies Act.