Landlords accept ruling on late rent

By Joshua Lynch

Local apartment managers say a new court ruling about late rent payments encourages communication between owners and renters.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that landlords who accept late rent money can't automatically evict because future payments are tardy. If late payments are accepted, renters must be told they can be evicted should they continue to pay late.

Larry Dwyer, owner of J &; L Property Management in Rochester, said the ruling is an opportunity for managers and renters to review how a company handles late payments.


"All this means is that you should just get all T's crossed and the I's dotted," he said. "If you follow the law, you don't have anything to worry about."

Tuesday's ruling stemmed from a case in which a disabled Edina woman was late with her rent 17 times in five years. She challenged the landlord's efforts to evict her because she was never warned her behavior could lead to eviction.

Dave Busch, president of Weis Management, said apartment managers and landowners should always try to work with tenants to reach amicable solutions.

"We try to work with our people and do business with our customers," he said. "If you can work with them to have everyone win, then everyone wins. But if we wear the black hat of landlord, that can create a certain animosity."

Busch noted that the property rental industry is, however, a business, and managers have a responsibility to collect rent promptly.

"We're not here to offer free housing to people," he said. "If people aren't going to pay -- as the old saying goes -- then they can't stay."

Dwyer said he sends letters to tenants who pay late, noting "just because we accepted late payments in the past, doesn't mean we're going to do it in the future."

Busch said he would "probably not" send a similar letter to tenants. He said Weis Management has other guidelines in place for dealing with tenants who pay rent late, including a "process of contacting people and notify them of what their responsibilities are."

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