How Do I Evict a Tenant in Minnesota?
Understanding the legal requirements is key for residential and commercial landlordsBy Doug Mentes, Esq. | Last updated on January 26, 2023
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Minnesota landlord-tenant law places many requirements on residential and commercial property lessors—requirements that ensure owners remain responsible and treat their tenants fairly. When it comes time to evict a tenant for a lease violation, landlords will find their compliance efforts make the eviction process much simpler. For starters, state law requires landlords follow the Minnesota eviction process and not engage in self-help, which might include cutting off utilities or changing locks. If landlords do pursue self-help, they risk lengthening the eviction process, losing income, and perhaps even facing criminal penalties.
Need a Reason To Evict
The process starts with the landlord filling out a state court form, which requires very little information from the landlord—aside from the reason for eviction. The most common reason to evict a tenant is for non-payment of rent. A breach or violation of the lease agreement is another common reason to evict, as is tenants staying beyond a notice to vacate, or “holding over,” the property.
Minnesota law requires residential landlords with 12 or more rental units to have written lease agreements with each tenant. It’s often in the landlord’s best interest to have a written lease agreement, no matter how many units a landlord rents out or how simple the rental agreement. A written lease will simplify the eviction process for the landlord and should cover, at minimum:
- The amount of the rental payment due each month
- The date each month the rent is due
- The landlord’s address to receive rent
- Conduct that will breach the terms of the lease
- A right of the landlord to re-enter the property for a material breach of the lease
Landlords may file an eviction action the moment a tenant is in breach of the lease. For example, a tenant required to pay rent on the first of the month is in violation of the lease if that tenant has not paid rent as of the next day. However, it may benefit the landlord to exercise patience and attempt to resolve the situation with the renter.
Landlords pursuing an eviction action must demonstrate compliance with state law on disclosure. If the landlord cannot, it must show that the tenant was aware of the landlord’s address at least 30 days prior to the eviction, or risk dismissal of their eviction complaint.
Service of Process on the Tenant Is Critical
Once a landlord files an eviction complaint, and pays the $285 filing fee, the court issues a summons to appear for the eviction hearing. The hearing date, typically seven to 14-days notice after filing, is very important; it begins the countdown for the deadline to serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and written notice. Minnesota statutes require the tenant receive personal service of an eviction notice at least seven days prior to the court hearing date.
The landlord cannot serve the tenant; someone not involved in the case must do so. Service must be accomplished by personal service of the tenant—i.e. handing a copy of the summons and complaint to the tenant, or leaving a copy with an adult resident. If the landlord has attempted service twice and failed, state law then allows service by U.S. mail and posting. After the second failed service attempt, a landlord may serve a tenant notice of eviction by posting a copy of the summons and eviction complaint on the tenant’s door, as well as by mailing, first class, a copy to the tenant’s last known address.
There are many other requirements for properly serving the tenant, and several documents to file with the court to demonstrate proper service. Because of the rules and tight deadlines, landlords and real estate attorneys often hire professional process servers.
Prepare for the Hearing
Finally, landlords must gather the necessary evidence to prove their case and appear on the court date. A tenant can redeem the tenancy by coming into court with the amount of unpaid rent due, plus the landlord’s court filing fee. Otherwise, if the landlord prevails, the court issues a writ of recovery of premises. Law enforcement will serve the writ on the tenant, which requires the tenant vacate within 24 hours.
For corporate or LLC landlords, state law requires the landlord be represented by a licensed attorney at any housing court eviction proceeding—though there is an exception for business owners in Hennepin County. Otherwise, to ensure your eviction goes smoothly, speak with an experienced Minnesota real estate attorney.
If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our landlord and tenant law overview.
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