Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

House passes protections for renters embroiled in utility disputes

If you’re a renter, how you pay for your power, heat and water can be problematic if your landlord does the billing instead of the utilities.

There have been instances in which landlords have charged excessive amounts and sometimes shut off their tenants’ power or water. And the tenants were left with no recourse.

But that would change under a bill passed 82-44 by the House Wednesday. The House took up SF4579, sponsored by Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), but Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul) successfully amended the bill with the language of HF4558.

It now returns to the Senate, which passed its version 44-19 April 11.

As amended, the bill would provide protections for renters who receive utility billing through a landlord or third-party rebilling company and provide renters with recourse for disputes. It would also allow landlords to charge tenants for administrative costs associated with rebilling.

“This bill puts tenants in shared-meter buildings on the same footing as those in direct-metered buildings and gives them all the protections that a regulated utility customer has,” Hollins said. “These include protections against utility shutoff in the winter, fairness in billing, and access to the [Public Utilities Commission’s] complaint-handling staff.”

The bill garnered bipartisan support, receiving votes from 16 Republicans.

“It is a bill dealing with an important, concrete problem,” said Rep. Harry Niska (R-Ramsey). “I think that this is the type of bill that really should be the model of what we look at as a Legislature over the next few weeks of this legislative session. This is the kind of bill that I think can lead to a good, orderly end of session.”

Rep. Brian Johnson (R-Cambridge) expressed disappointment that the bill hadn’t been referred to the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee, but nevertheless supported its passage.

“We need to make sure that we are equitable in the way we do business,” said Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove). “No matter what side of the aisle we come from, we can agree on basic, fundamental fairness.”

“For a bill that is technical and not quite as sexy, it has a real impact on people’s lives,” Hollins said. “It provides a guarantee of transparency, consistency and consumer protections for one of the most important necessities in our modern world, electricity.”

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

Ways and Means Committee OKs proposed $512 million supplemental budget on party-line vote
(House Photography file photo) Meeting more needs or fiscal irresponsibility is one way to sum up the differences among the two parties on a supplemental spending package a year after a $72 billion state budg...
Minnesota’s projected budget surplus balloons to $3.7 billion, but fiscal pressure still looms
(House Photography file photo) Just as Minnesota has experienced a warmer winter than usual, so has the state’s budget outlook warmed over the past few months. On Thursday, Minnesota Management and Budget...

Minnesota House on Twitter