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Background Checks

Under 5A.411, property owners must check criminal history convictions as well as court actions.  The city is interested in rental property owners being well informed about a prospective renter's past criminal history, regardless of whether or not the owner decides to enter into a lease with the prospective tenant.  The police department is not allowed to conduct such checks for rental property owners by state law.

The rental owner is responsible for:

  1. A statewide (Minnesota) criminal history check of all prospective tenants covering at least the last seven years. The checks must be done by utilizing the most recent update of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's criminal history files;
  2. A statewide criminal history check from the prospective tenant's previous state of residence shall be conducted if the tenant is moving directly from the previous state;
  3. A criminal history check of any prospective tenant in their previous states of residence shall be conducted covering the last seven years if they have not resided in Minnesota for three years or longer;
  4. A statewide (Minnesota) court history check of all prospective tenants covering at least the last seven years. This check, which includes Unlawful Detainer actions, can be done utilizing the most recent update of the Minnesota Judicial Branch Trial Court Public Access database.

Many rental owners use a service company to check a potential tenant’s background.  Any company that the rental licensee contracts with to conduct criminal history checks must meet the same standards as established above.  Also, documentation of the criminal background checks must be kept on file by the property owner for the length of the tenant's lease. The lessor must display documentation of the background check upon request by the Police Department.  If the licensee fails to comply with the requirements of this section, the rental dwelling license for the premises may be denied, revoked, suspended, or not renewed. An action to deny, revoke, suspend, or not renew a license under this section shall be initiated by the City Council at the request of the Police Department in the manner described in 5A.408.  Also, a citation may be issued to a property owner for such ordinance violations, the resolution of which would be handled through Anoka County Court.

There are currently free websites that one can check for criminal and court records in Minnesota.  Some states have similar free websites while others require a fee.

Contact Columbia Heights
590 40th Ave. NE
Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Ph: (763) 706-3600
Fx: (763) 706-3601
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