Focus on New Laws: Hotel Licensing Authority for Cities

July 24, 2023

A new law provides cities with a new tool to manage public safety issues at hotels through licensing.

A law passed in the 2023 legislative session includes a provision enabling cities to establish and maintain municipal hotel licenses. Minnesota Session Laws 2023, Chapter 62, Article 3, Section 16, signed into law on May 24, 2023, empowers cities to adopt ordinances requiring hotels in their city limits to have valid city-issued licenses. This new law went into effect on July 1, 2023.

The amendment specifies that the sole condition of licensure cities can impose is that hotels comply with state and local laws and provides cities with the ability to revoke local licenses if the hotel fails to comply with the conditions of the license.

Background on local hotel licensing

Currently, all hotels and similar short-term accommodations are required to have a state-issued license through the Minnesota Department of Health. However, state inspectors are not available in all areas or at all times, and their ability to intervene when a hotel property becomes a local problem is limited to health and safety hazards.

Prior to the 2023 amendment, state statute did not specifically authorize cities to create municipal hotel licensure systems. In 2017, the city of Waite Park successfully petitioned the state Legislature for an exception to this regulation and instituted a municipal hotel licensure ordinance in response to ongoing public safety concerns surrounding a property. The 2023 amendment expands this power to all municipalities within the state regardless of size.

Considerations for cities

The League suggests cities conduct a review of the hotel properties in their jurisdictions and work with their public safety departments to determine whether a hotel regulation ordinance is appropriate for their locality.

Keep in mind that any new ordinance passed would be limited to conditioning licensure on compliance with state or local laws by hotel properties. If there are maintenance or cleanliness concerns with a hotel in your city, they should be referred to the Minnesota Department of Health.

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