MN Lease Late Fee Limit Not Preempted by Federal Law

Minnesota case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: public housing, preemption.

Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth v. Brian Lee. MN public housing, preemption

This was an eviction action by the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of Duluth against public housing tenant Brian Lee. Lee's rent was $50 per month, but he fell behind due to not paying repair and maintenance fees of $95. As a result, the HRA charged a late fee of $25 per month. At the time of the eviction, he was in arrears $50. The case made its way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which held:

1. The eight percent limitation on late fees that landlords of residential buildings may charge under Minn. Stat. 504B.177 is not preempted by federal law regarding public housing authorities, as set forth in 42 U.S.C. 1437d and 24 C.F.R. 966.4.

2. Because the public housing authority failed to establish that the eight percent limitation on late fees set forth in Minn. Stat. 504B.177 conflicts with a federal statute, regulation, or handbook, the public housing authority was subject to the eight percent limitation.

No. A12-2078 (Minn. Aug. 27, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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