The theme of the RESOURCE this month is material fact disclosure. Since this is the Governmental Affairs article, we wanted to provide some of the legislative history regarding Minnesota’s material fact disclosure laws.
The legislation which established the duty for real estate licensees to disclose material facts to prospective homebuyers was passed by the 78th Minnesota Legislature during its 1993 Regular Session. In 2010, the Legislature reorganized Chapter 82 and moved the licensee material fact disclosure requirement into its current section of law – Minn. Stat. 82.68 OTHER DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS.
The legislation which established the duty for sellers to disclose material facts about their property to prospective buyers was not enacted until the 2002 Regular Session of the 82nd Legislature. The 2002 legislation created an entirely new section of law. The material fact disclosure law for sellers was expanded in 2004 by striking language in the law that only required homeowners to disclose material facts, “…pertaining to adverse physical conditions in the property.”
An interesting side-note is that Senator Ann Rest-DFL, New Hope, and Senator Warren Limmer-R, Maple Grove (and a REALTOR®), two of the Senate authors of the 2002 material fact disclosure bill, are the only bill authors in either the Senate or the House who are still members of the Legislature.
Taking an issue from the initial idea stage through the legislative process, and ultimately seeing that idea enacted into law, is typically a lengthy and difficult endeavor designed to produce law that stands the test of time. An argument could be made that the system was successful with respect to material fact disclosure.
However, proposals directed at changing material fact disclosure laws – particularly to highlight a specific issue – continue to be of interest to legislators, state agencies, and other groups at the State Capitol.
Over the past several legislative sessions, various interest groups have approached the Legislature wanting to create new disclosure laws for specific issues. When faced with these proposals, Minnesota REALTORS® attempt to educate interested parties and legislators regarding Minnesota’s existing comprehensive and robust material fact disclosure laws.
Instead of making a finite list of items that would be wrought with loopholes and require constant updating, the thoughtful 1993 and 2002/2004 Legislatures gave us timeless statutes that are based on a simple but sound principle – regardless of how big or small the issue, if it could affect the prospective buyer’s use and enjoyment of the property, it needs to be disclosed.
Vice President, Governmental Affairs
Ryan E. Hamilton, JD
Associate Legal Counsel
The Minnesota REALTORS® is the largest professional trade association in the state with more than 17,000 members who are active in all aspects of the real estate industry.