Minnesota Attorney General's Office
1400 Bremer Tower
445 Minnesota Street
St. Paul, MN 55101
M - F 8 am - 5 pm
Landlords and Tenants
Other Important Laws
22. HOUSING COURTS
Housing courts in Ramsey (651-266-8285) and Hennepin counties (612-348-5186) hear and decide criminal and civil cases related to residential rental housing. This includes, for example, claims for rent abatement, rent escrow proceedings, eviction actions, and actions for violations of state, county or city housing codes. Housing courts ensure housing claims are brought before a single, trained referee. This is to encourage consistent decisions and prompt compliance with Minnesota’s housing laws.
Ramsey and Hennepin County District Courts appoint a referee to hold hearings and make recommended decisions. After the hearing in each case, the referee’s recommended findings and orders are sent to the district court judge. These become the findings and orders of the court when confirmed by the district judge. The landlord or tenant can ask the district court judge to review any order or finding recommended by the referee. The person who is requesting the review must file and serve (provide to the other party) a notice of the recommended order or finding. This must occur within 10 days. This notice must explain the reasons for requesting a review and state the specific parts of the recommended findings or orders that are disputed. After receiving this notice, a time for the review hearing will be set. After the hearing the judge will decide whether to accept, reject or change the referee’s recommended decision.
Hennepin and Ramsey county landlords and tenants are encouraged to use the housing courts to resolve housing related disputes that they cannot work out themselves.
Eviction Actions (Unlawful Detainer)
Landlords cannot forcibly remove tenants. In order to evict a tenant, a landlord must first bring an “Eviction Action,” or what used to be called an “Unlawful Detainer” action, against the tenant. This is a legal proceeding conducted in district court. To bring such an action the landlord must have a legitimate reason. According to state law, legitimate reasons can be nonpayment of rent, other breach of the lease, or cases where the tenant has refused to leave after notice to vacate has been properly served and the tenancy’s last day has passed. (153) In general, if a tenant does not pay rent on the day it is due, the landlord may immediately bring an Eviction Action unless the lease provides otherwise.
With proper written notice, a landlord can end a month-to-month tenancy unless the landlord is limiting a tenant’s right to call the police for emergency assistance or retaliating or discriminating against the tenant. (See pages 15, 29 and 33 for definitions of these terms.) Definite term leases can only be ended according to the notice specified in the lease or if there has been a significant breach of the lease and the lease allows eviction for breach.
There are a number of steps both landlords and tenants must take in an Eviction Action:
- The landlord must file a complaint against the tenant in district court. At least seven days before the court date the landlord must have someone else serve the tenant with a summons ordering the tenant to appear in court. (155)
- A court hearing must take place within seven to fourteen days after the court issues the summons. At the hearing, both the tenant and the landlord will be asked to give their sides of the story. (156)
- The judge will then deliver a decision. If the judge decides the tenant has no legal reason for refusing to leave or pay the rent, the judge will order the tenant to vacate the rental unit. If necessary, the judge will order a law enforcement officer to force the tenant out. If the tenant can show immediate eviction will cause substantial hardship, the court shall allow the tenant a reasonable period of time (up to one week) in which to move. A tenant may not seek or receive a delay based on hardship if the tenant is causing a nuisance or seriously endangering the safety of other residents, their property, or the landlord’s property. (157)
If the Eviction Action has been brought only because the tenant owes rent, and the landlord wins, the tenant can still “pay and stay.” To pay and stay, the tenant must pay the rent that is past due (in arrears), plus interest (if charged), plus a $5 attorney fee if an attorney represented the landlord, and finally, any “costs of the action.” Costs of the action includes the filing fee (now about $250 - $255) plus the process server fee, plus witness fees if one was subpoenaed (called) for trial; costs do not include other legal or similar fees for handling/processing the case as those are capped at $5.
If legal action is taken because the tenant owes rent, it is defense for the tenant to produce a copy or copies of one or more money orders or receipts for the purchase of money orders if the documents: total the amount of the rent, include a date or dates corresponding with the date rent was due, and in the case of copies of money orders, are made payable to the landlord. The landlord can argue against this defense by producing a business record that shows that the tenant has not paid the rent. (157.1)
The court may give the tenant up to a week to pay the court costs. If a tenant has paid the landlord or the court the amount of rent owed, but is unable to pay the interest, costs and attorney’s fees, the court may permit the tenant to pay these amounts during the time period the court delays issuing a Writ of Recovery (eviction order). (158)
If the Eviction Action has been brought because the tenant has withheld the rent due to disrepair, the judge may order the tenant to deposit the rent with the court. If the tenant wins, the judge may order that the rent be abated (reduced), in part or completely. (See page 19 for a description of withholding rent.)
Following a motion by the tenant, the court may find that the landlord’s eviction case is without merit. The judge may then decide to expunge (remove) the eviction case from the court’s record. (159) See page 9 for a more complete discussion of expungement. If a tenant screening service (see page 8 for an explanation of tenant reports) knows that an eviction case file has been expunged, the tenant screening service must remove any reference to that file from data it maintains or disseminates. (160)
It should be understood that only a law enforcement officer can physically evict a tenant. The landlord cannot. A Writ of Recovery - which is issued at the time the decision is handed down - must be posted on the premises at least 24 hours before the actual eviction. The law enforcement officer can show up to perform the eviction anytime after the 24 hours have expired. (161)
A landlord may not obtain a judgment for unpaid rent in an Eviction Action. To obtain a judgment for unpaid rent, a landlord must bring a separate action in Conciliation Court or District Court.
Storage of Personal Property
When the law enforcement officer performs the eviction, the tenant’s remaining property must either be stored on the premises or placed in storage in a bonded warehouse or other suitable storage place. (162)
In cases where the tenant’s property will be stored on the premises, the landlord must prepare an inventory that is signed and dated in the presence of a law enforcement officer acting pursuant to a court order. A copy of the inventory must be mailed to the tenant at the tenant’s last known address or to an address provided by the tenant. (163) The inventory must include the following:
- A listing of the items of personal property, and a description of the condition of that property. (164)
- The date, the signature of the landlord, and the name and telephone number of the person authorized to release the property. (165)
- The name and badge number of the police officer. (166)
The officer must keep a copy of the inventory. The landlord must remove, store and take care of the tenant’s property. The landlord is liable for damages to, or loss of, the tenant’s personal property. The landlord should notify the tenant of the date and approximate time the officer is scheduled to remove the tenant and the tenant’s personal property from the premises. The notice must be sent by first class mail. The landlord should also make a good faith effort to notify the tenant by telephone, explicitly informing the tenant that the tenant and the tenant’s property will be removed from the premises if the tenant has not vacated by the time specified in the notice. (167) According to Minnesota law, this provision may not be waived or modified by any oral or written lease or other agreement. (168)
To Get the Property Back
If the tenant’s personal property is stored on the premises, the tenant may contact the landlord in writing to demand that the property be returned. The landlord does not have a lien on the property. If the tenant’s property is stored away from the premises (at a bonded warehouse or other suitable storage place), the landlord has a lien (legal claim) on the tenant’s personal property for the reasonable costs of removing, transporting, and storing the property plus court costs of the Eviction Action. The landlord can keep the property in such a circumstance until those expenses are paid. (169)
Whether the tenant’s property is stored on or away from the premises, to get the property back the tenant does not have to pay any unpaid rent, late charges, etc. The landlord can sue the tenant in court for these costs.
Eviction for Illegal Activities
Every oral or written residential lease now includes a requirement that the following activities will not be allowed on the premises: making, selling, possessing, purchasing or allowing illegal drugs; illegally using or possessing firearms; allowing stolen property; or allowing prostitution or related activities. (170) A tenant violating this law loses the right to the rental property. An Eviction Action filed by a landlord for these reasons will be heard within five to seven days (rather than the usual 7 to 14 days). (171)
If illegal drugs or contraband valued at more than $100 are seized from the property, the landlord, upon being notified, (172) has 15 days to file to evict the tenant or ask the county attorney to do so. (173)
Landlords receiving notice of a second such occurrence involving the same tenant may forfeit their property unless they have filed to evict the tenant or asked the county attorney to do so. (174) Forfeiture of the property may occur if the value of the controlled substance is $1,000 or more or there have been two previous controlled substance seizures involving the same tenant. (175)
The tenant has a defense against eviction if the tenant has no knowledge of, or reason to know about, the drugs or contraband or could not prevent them from being brought onto the premises. (176)
The landlord has a defense if the landlord was not notified of the seizure or had made every reasonable attempt to evict a tenant or to assign the county attorney that right. If the property is owned by a parent of the offender, the rental property cannot be forfeited simply based on the owner’s knowledge of unlawful drug use unless the parent actively participated in, or knowingly allowed the unlawful activity, or the rental property was purchased with unlawful drug proceeds. (177)
Seizure of Property
Unlawful sale or possession of illegal drugs, unlawful use or possession of a dangerous weapon, or unlawful sale of alcohol within a building is now a public nuisance. (178) A city attorney, county attorney, or the attorney general may file an abatement action against the landlord, and if the nuisance is not corrected, ask the court to seize the building. (179)
Foreclosure/Contract-for-Deed New Owner Evictions
Minnesota law describes a tenant’s rights when the new owner brings an action to evict the tenant after a mortgage foreclosure or contract for deed cancellation:
For any eviction action following foreclosure that is started on or before December 31, 2014:
- If a tenant’s lease began after the date the mortgage was signed, but prior to the end of the mortgage foreclosure redemption period (described in Section 4), the new owner must provide the tenant 90 days written notice to vacate, effective no sooner than 90 days after the end of the mortgage foreclosure redemption period, prior to bringing an eviction action. The new owner may evict the tenant sooner if the tenant fails to pay the rent and abide by all the lease terms. (154)
- If the tenant is not a parent, child or spouse of the prior landlord, and the prior landlord and the tenant negotiated an arm’s-length lease for fair market value, the new owner generally is required to allow the tenant to remain in the property until the lease ends. If, however, the new owner will live in the property as a primary residence, the new owner is not required to permit the tenant to stay until the end of the lease. If the tenant fails to pay rent and abide by the lease terms, the new owner may evict the tenant. The new owner must provide notice to vacate 90 days prior to the termination of the lease. These requirements only apply to the new owner immediately after the foreclosure, i.e. the purchaser at the sheriff’s sale, and do not apply if the property is resold following the foreclosure. (154.1)
For any eviction action following contract for deed cancellation that is started on or before December 31, 2014:
The owner may evict the tenant after termination of a contract for deed, but if the lease began after the date the contract for deed was signed, but prior to the end of the contract for deed cancellation period (described in Section 4), the tenant must receive:
- at least two months’ written notice to vacate no sooner than one month after the end of the contract for deed cancellation period, provided that the tenant pays the rent and abides by all the terms of the lease; or
- at least two months’ written notice to vacate no later than the end of the contract for deed cancellation period. This notice must state that the sender will hold the tenant harmless for breaching the lease by vacating the premises if the contract is reinstated. (154.2)
For eviction actions started on or after January 1, 2015, the notice requirements described above for contract for deed cancellations will apply to both contract for deed cancellations and mortgage foreclosures. In addition, there is no requirement on or after January 1, 2015, that the new owner allow a tenant to remain in the property until the end of the lease following a mortgage foreclosure. (154.3)
A landlord may not evict a tenant or end a tenancy in retaliation for the tenant’s “good faith” attempt to enforce the tenant’s rights, nor can a landlord respond to such an attempt by raising the tenant’s rent, cutting services, or otherwise adversely changing the rental terms. For instance, if a tenant has reported the landlord to a governmental agency for violating health, safety, housing, or building codes, the landlord cannot try to “get even” by evicting the tenant.
If, within 90 days of a tenant’s action, the landlord starts an eviction action or gives the tenant a notice to vacate, the law presumes that the landlord is retaliating. It will then be up to the landlord to prove the eviction is not retaliatory. However, if the landlord’s notice to vacate comes more than 90 days after a tenant exercises the tenant’s rights, it will be up to the tenant to prove the eviction is retaliatory. These provisions also apply to oral rental agreements. (180)
25. UNLAWFUL EXCLUSIONS AND PROPERTY CONFISCATIONIt is a misdemeanor for a landlord to physically lock out a tenant from the tenant’s rental unit or otherwise prevent a tenant from living there (for example, by removing locks, doors, or windows from the rental unit) without a court order. (181) A tenant who has been unlawfully locked out may petition the district court to get back in. The petition must:
- Give a description of the rental unit. (182)
- Give the owner’s name. (183)
- State the facts that make the lockout or exclusion unlawful. (184)
- Request that the tenant be given possession of the unit. (185)
If the court agrees with the tenant, it will order the sheriff to help the tenant get back in. If the court decides the landlord knew or should have known that the lockout or other exclusion was unlawful, the court can order the landlord to pay the tenant up to triple damages or $500, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney’s fees. (186) Also, a landlord cannot cart away or keep a tenant’s belongings for nonpayment of rent or other charges. (187)
26. UTILITY SHUTOFFS
A landlord may not intentionally shut off a tenant’s utilities. To do so is a misdemeanor. (188)If a landlord has unlawfully cut off utility services, a tenant can sue the landlord in court to recover triple damages or $500, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorney’s fees. However, a tenant may recover only actual damages if:
- In the beginning, the tenant failed to notify the landlord of the interruption of utilities. (189)
- The landlord, once notified, had the services reinstated within a reasonable time or made a good faith effort to do so. (190)
- The cutoff was necessary to repair or correct equipment or to protect the health and safety of the tenants. (191)
Tenants, finding their utility service cut off, should notify the landlord immediately. If service is not restored within a reasonable time, they should notify a housing inspector (if there is one available) and may bring an emergency action in court if the landlord unlawfully cuts off utilities. (192)
Loss of Essential Services
When a landlord has contracted to pay for utilities but fails to pay, the utility company must provide notice that services will be cut off, or if the utilities are shut off, the tenant or a group of tenants may pay to have the services continued or reconnected and may deduct that payment from their rent. But the tenant(s) must follow certain steps. (192.1)
The tenant must notify the landlord either orally or in writing of the tenant’s intention to pay the utility if, after 48 hours, the landlord fails to pay. Under certain circumstances, the notice period can be shorter. For example, if the furnace stops in the middle of winter because of a lack of fuel that the landlord was supposed to provide, less than a 48-hour notice is considered reasonable. If the landlord is notified orally, written notice must be mailed or delivered to the landlord within 24 hours after the oral notice. (193)
If the landlord has not paid the natural gas, electricity, or water utility, and the service remains disconnected, the tenant may pay the amount due for the most recent billing period. (194) If the disconnected service is heating oil or propane and the service has not been reconnected, the tenant may order and pay for a one-month supply. (195)
In a residential building with less than five units, one of the tenants may take responsibility for the gas or electric bill and establish an account in the tenant’s name. Then, each month the tenant would provide receipts to the landlord and deduct from the next rental payment the amount paid to restore and pay for these utility services. By law, any payments made to a utility provider in this manner must be considered the same as rent paid to the landlord. Payments made for water, heating oil, or propane may also be deducted from rent. (196)
Utilities include natural gas, water, electricity, home heating oil and propane. (197) This law applies to all utility providers, including municipalities and cooperatives that in most cases are not regulated by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. (198) The utility cannot collect payment from the tenant for the landlord’s past bills. Also, the utility may not refuse service to a tenant due to the landlord’s failure to pay past bills. (199)
27. COLD WEATHER RULE
The Minnesota Legislature developed the Cold Weather Rule to protect a tenant (or homeowner) from having their heat source permanently disconnected in winter (October 15 through April 15) if they are unable to pay their utility bills. (200) The Cold Weather Rule is implemented by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The Cold Weather Rule does not prohibit shut-offs but does provide that a utility may not disconnect and must reconnect a customer whose household income is at or below 50 percent of the state median income if the customer enters into and makes reasonably timely payments under a mutually acceptable payment agreement. Customers whose household income is above 50 percent of the state median income also have the right to a payment agreement to prevent disconnection or get reconnected. (201) The Cold Weather Rule applies to all natural gas and electric utilities; it does not apply to delivered fuels, such as fuel oil, propane, and wood.
The Cold Weather Rule does not prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant or refusing to renew a lease that expires during this “cold weather” season.
The Cold Weather Rule requires a utility company to notify its customers in writing before it disconnects their heat. The notice must be in easy-to-understand language and must contain the amount due, the date of the scheduled disconnection, the reasons for disconnection, and options to avoid disconnection. (202) A regulated public utility must notify a customer of disconnection at least seven working days in advance. (203) An unregulated utility—such as a cooperative or municipal utility—must notify a customer of disconnection at least 15 days in advance. (204) A disconnection may not generally happen on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, a holiday or the day before a holiday, while an appeal is pending, or after the close of business on the scheduled day of disconnection.
A utility company must enter into payment agreements all year round, not just during the winter months. (205) Any residential customer, regardless of income or account status, may qualify for a payment agreement.
If you receive a disconnection notice or you know you cannot afford your utility bills, you must work directly with your utility company to set up a payment plan. Your utility company must consider your financial circumstances, as well as any “extenuating” circumstances, when it makes your payment plan. (206) If you agree to a payment plan, you must keep it. If your circumstances change and you can no longer afford your payment plan, you must contact your utility company and negotiate a new payment plan.
During the winter months, the Cold Weather Rule guarantees a reduced payment plan for consumers who meet certain guidelines. If you receive energy assistance or your household earns less than 50 percent of the state’s median income, a public utility company cannot ask you to pay more than ten percent of your monthly household income toward current and past utility bills. (207) A cooperative or municipal utility can ask you to pay more than ten percent of your monthly household income, but it must consider your financial circumstances. (208) Household income includes the income of all residents in your household but does not include any amount received for energy assistance. The state’s median household income is $55,422 for a family of four.
Your Right to Appeal
If you and your utility company cannot agree on a reasonable payment plan, you have the right to appeal.
If you are a customer of a public utility, you may appeal to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. (209) You must ask your utility company for an appeal form. Once you receive the appeal form, you must send it to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission within seven working days. (210) After it receives your written appeal, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will review it and issue a decision within 20 working days. (211) During the appeal process, your utility company cannot disconnect your heat; if you have already been disconnected, your utility company must reconnect your service. (212) If your appeal is denied, your utility company must notify you in writing at least seven days before it disconnects your service. (213)
If you are the customer of a cooperative or municipal utility, you must appeal directly to your utility company before you are disconnected. (214)
If you have questions about the Cold Weather Rule, contact your local utility or call the Consumer Affairs Office of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782. If you meet low income guidelines, you may also be eligible for energy assistance funds. Your utility company or the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission can help you get in touch with these programs.
28. TENANT’S RIGHT TO A TAX CREDIT (CRP)
Minnesota law gives tenants (depending on income and amount of rent paid) a partial refund for the property taxes they pay indirectly through their rent. (215) To be eligible a tenant must rent a property tax-paying unit. If the tenant is renting from the government, a private college, some other person, or other entity not required to pay property taxes or make payments in lieu of taxes, the tenant is not eligible for a refund.
To claim the credit, the tenant must file with the Minnesota Department of Revenue a property tax refund return form (M-1RP) and include with it a “certificate of rent paid” (“CRP”) that the landlord must supply to the person who is a renter on December 31. If the renter moves prior to December 31, the owner or managing agent may give the certificate to the renter at the time of moving or mail the certificate to a forwarding address if one has been provided by the renter. The certificate must be made available to the renter before February 1 of the year following the year in which the rent was paid. (216) If there is a disagreement between the tenant and the landlord over how much rent was paid, or if the landlord fails to provide a certificate of rent paid form, a “Rent Paid Affidavit” can be requested from the Minnesota Department of Revenue. The property tax refund return for the previous year must be filed with the Department of Revenue by August 15. Questions may be directed to the department at 651-296-3781. TTY users call 711 for Minnesota State Relay Service.
According to Minnesota law, landlords cannot legally refuse to sell, rent, or lease housing to potential tenants, or have different rental terms, on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual or affectional orientation, disability, or reliance on public assistance. (217) There is one exception to this: an owner living in a one-family unit may refuse to rent part of the premises on the basis of sex, marital status, sexual or affectional orientation, disability, or reliance on public assistance. (218)
Likewise, a landlord cannot discriminate against tenants by decreasing services that have been promised in the lease. (219) It is also illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with children (this is also called “familial status”). However, there are some important exceptions to this prohibition. Landlords can refuse to rent to persons with children when:
- The vacancy is in an owner-occupied house, duplex, triplex or fourplex (220) or
- The purpose of the building is to provide housing for elderly persons. (221)
Complaints about discrimination may be filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, 190 East 5th Street, Suite 700, St. Paul, MN 55101; 651-296-5663, or toll free, 800-657-3704. In Minneapolis, St. Paul, and some other locations, such complaints may also be filed with municipal civil or human rights departments. (226) Tenants may also wish to consult a private attorney about discrimination.
To qualify for the second exemption the housing must:
- Be provided under a state or federal program that is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons. (222)
- Be intended for and solely occupied by persons 62 years of age or older (223) or
- Be intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person 55 years of age or older per unit. At least 80 percent of the units must be occupied by one person 55 years of age or older per unit, and there must be the publication of, and adherence to, policies and procedures that demonstrate an intent to provide such housing. (224)
Additionally, a landlord is unable to discriminate against a tenant who requires a service dog. Every totally or partially blind, physically disabled, or deaf person who has a service dog, or who obtains a service dog while renting, shall be entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations. Furthermore, the tenant shall not be required to pay extra compensation to the landlord in order to have a service dog reside in the unit; however, the tenant shall be liable for any damage done to the premises by such service dog. (225)
30. HANDICAPPED-ACCESSIBLE UNIT
Minnesota law requires that a disabled person, or a family with a disabled family member, must be given priority to handicapped-equipped rental housing. This law provides that if a non-disabled person, or a family that does not include a disabled person, is living in a handicapped-equipped unit, the owner must offer to rent a non-handicapped-equipped apartment to that person or family if:
- A disabled person or a family with a disabled family member who will reside in the apartment has signed a rental agreement for the handicapped-equipped apartment. (227)
- A similar non-handicapped-equipped apartment in the same rental housing complex is available at the same rent. (228)
The law requires that the owner must inform non-disabled people and families that do not include a disabled family member of the possibility that they may have to move to a non-handicapped-equipped rental unit. This information must be provided before an agreement is made to rent a handicapped-equipped unit. (229)
31. LANDLORD DISCLOSURE
Landlords must provide their tenants, in writing, with the name and address of:
- The person authorized to manage the premises. (230)
- The owner of the premises or the owner’s authorized agent (the person or entity that will be receiving any notices or demands). (231)
The addresses given must be a street address, not a post office box number, because it must be an address at which papers can be served (handed to the recipient). The disclosure can be inserted in the lease or can be put in some other written form. It must also be printed or typed and posted by the landlord in some clearly visible place on the premises. (232)
The disclosure is important because the tenant must be able to contact the landlord or agent when repairs are needed or other problems arise. Also, a landlord cannot take any legal action against a tenant to recover rent or to evict the tenant unless the disclosure has been given. (233)
Tenants who move out of a rental unit, or sublet their unit without giving the owner 30 days’ written notice, lose the protection of the disclosure law. (234)
Subleasing means another person “takes over” a tenant’s unit by moving into the unit, paying rent and doing all the things the original tenant agreed to do under the rental agreement. If nothing in the lease prohibits subletting, then the tenant can sublet. This means that the new tenant takes over the old tenant’s duties, including paying the rent. It is best to get these agreements in writing and signed by both parties. Still, if the new tenant does not pay the rent, or if the new tenant damages the unit or leaves before the lease is up, the original tenant will be responsible to the landlord for any damage or unpaid rent. The original tenant can sue the new tenant for these costs. Most leases say the tenant can sublet only if the landlord agrees to it. If the tenant and landlord agree to sublet, it is best to get this agreement in writing.
33. ABANDONED PROPERTY
If law enforcement has performed an eviction, the storage of a tenant’s personal property is explained on page 27 of this booklet. Otherwise, the personal property a tenant leaves behind after moving out must first be stored by the landlord. The landlord can charge the tenant all moving and storage costs, however, the tenant can get his or her property back before paying the moving and storage costs. If the tenant refuses to pay the moving and storage costs, the landlord can sue the tenant to recover those costs. (235)
Twenty-eight days after the landlord has either received a notice of abandonment or it has become reasonably apparent that the unit has been abandoned, the landlord may sell or get rid of the property in whatever way the landlord wishes. (235.1) The landlord must make a reasonable effort, however, to contact the tenant at least two weeks before a sale of the items, to let the tenant know they are being sold or disposed of. The landlord must do this either by personally giving the tenant a written notice of a sale or by sending the notice by first-class and certified mail to the tenant’s last known address or likely living quarters, if that is known by the landlord. The landlord must also post a notice of the sale in a clearly visible place on the premises at least two weeks before the sale. If notice is given by mail, the two week period begins the day the notice is deposited in the United States mail. (235.2)
The landlord may use a reasonable amount of the money from a sale to pay for the costs of removing and storing the property, back rent, damages caused by the tenant, and other debts the tenant owes the landlord under an agreement. Money earned in excess of the landlord’s costs belongs to the tenant, if the tenant has written and asked for it. The landlord may not withhold the tenant’s property pending payment of any rent that may be owing. If the tenant has asked for the property back before the 28 day waiting period ends, the landlord must give the property back. (236)
The landlord must return the tenant’s property within 24 hours after the tenant’s written demand, or 48 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) if the landlord has moved the tenant’s property somewhere other than the building. If the landlord or the landlord’s agent does not allow the tenant to reclaim the property after the tenant has written for it, the tenant may sue for a penalty in an amount not to exceed twice the actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, plus any damages the tenant suffered plus reasonable attorney’s fees. (237)
34. EXPANDED DEFINITION OF “TENANT”
Caretakers and other individuals who exchange their services (instead of money) for rent are considered tenants. As such, these individuals are entitled to all rights and remedies provided to tenants by law. (238)
35. SMOKING IN COMMON AREAS
Minnesota’s Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in all common areas within apartment buildings. (239)
36. MANUFACTURED HOME PARK RESIDENTS
Manufactured home owners who rent lots in manufactured home parks have special rights and responsibilities under Minnesota law. (240) The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office publishes a brochure detailing these rights and responsibilities. To receive The Manufactured Home Parks Handbook, contact the Attorney General’s Office as listed on page 47.