It is every property owner or residential landlord’s worst nightmare: you discover that a trusted employee, who may have been in your employ for years, has a serious criminal conviction on their record. It may have happened after you hired them or it may have been missed by an initial background check. All employers dread finding out that an employee has committed a serious crime. For Minnesota property management companies and landlords, however, the concern is even greater when the employee at issue is a property manager, caretaker, maintenance technician, or other person who will be given access to tenant dwelling units within the scope of their employment.
The Minnesota Kari Koskinen Manager Background Check Act (the “KKMBCA”), Minn. Stat. §§ 299C.66 to 299C.71, protects Minnesotans by requiring property owners to subject would-be property managers to criminal background checks. Under the KKMBCA, tenants can rest assured that any property manager who has the means to enter their dwelling has been thoroughly vetted. Minnesota property owners and property management companies should be aware of their obligations under the KKMBCA both at the hiring stage and beyond.
Pre-Hiring Background Checks for Minnesota Property Managers
Prior to hiring a residential property manager, an owner must request that the superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension perform a background check. Minn. Stat. § 299C.68, subd. 1. A property manager is anyone who will have the means, within the scope of their duties, of entering tenant’s dwelling units. Minn. Stat. § 299C.67, subd. 4 (defining “manager”). An owner is “an owner of real property, a contract for deed vendee, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent, or other person directly or indirectly in control of rental property” but not including “a person who owns, operates, or is in control of a health care facility or a home health agency licensed by the commissioner of health or human services under chapter 144, 144A, 144B, or 245A, or a board and lodging establishment with special services registered under section 157.17.” Minn. Stat. §§ 299C.67, subd. 5, 504B.004, subd. 7 (defining “owner” and “landlord,” respectively).
“Background check crimes” are enumerated under the KKMBCA, and are generally limited to felony offenses such as first or second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first, second, or third-degree assault, kidnapping, first, second, third, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree arson, or harassment or stalking. Minn. Stat. § 299C.67, subd. 2.
If a prospective manager has been convicted of a prohibited “background check crime,” the owner cannot hire that manager. Minn. Stat. § 299C.69(a).
Post-Hiring Obligations Applicable to Minnesota Property Managers
An owner’s obligations under the KKMBCA do not end once a property manager has passed the initial background check and been hired. The KKMBCA also provides that “if an owner otherwise knows that a manager has been convicted of a background check crime defined in section 299C.67, subdivision 2, paragraph (a), the owner shall terminate the manager’s employment.” Minn. Stat. § 299C.69(a) (emphasis added). An owner may not employ a manager who has been convicted of a background check crime unless “more than ten years have elapsed since the date of the discharge of the sentence” or the offense occurred prior to July 1, 1995 and the manager was hired before that date. Minn. Stat. §§ 609B.155, 299C.67(c). Based on these provisions, if an owner learns that a property manager has been convicted of a background check crime, they will have to terminate the property manager unless one of the two exceptions apply.
Minnesota property owners and landlords, and the property management firms they hire, need to be aware of their initial and continuing obligations under the KKMBCA. If you have questions about criminal background checks for residential property managers or are involved in a lawsuit regarding the termination of a property manager, contact one of the Minnesota employment law attorneys of Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A.
About the Author:
Minnesota employment attorney Craig W. Trepanier represents clients including property management firms in a broad range of employment law matters, including background checks, employment contracts, non-compete agreements, employee handbooks, discrimination and harassment, unpaid wages and commissions, discipline and discharge, and wrongful termination. Craig may be reached at 612.455.0502 or email@example.com. Trepanier MacGillis Battina P.A. is a Minnesota employment law firm located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.