Evictions and Terminating Tenancies (in Minnesota)

hand-65688_1280-PDIf you have a tenant that you want to get rid of, there are many ways to go about it.  In Minnesota, here are the main ways and reasons to evict.  Minnesota is the host cost eviction in the Nation, so make sure you are prepared.  In 2013 the costs were as follows: $320 court costs, $100 to serve the summons, $55 for the writ.  $125 to serve the writ.  Plus vacancy, repairs, lost rent, and aggravation.

Holdover.  The easiest way to get rid of a tenant is with a month to month lease.  You can simply give a 30-day notice, and the tenant (hopefully) leaves at the end of the next full month.  You collect rent until the end date, not after.  If they do not leave, you can evict for a ‘holdover’.  You do not continue to take rent after the rental period ends, if you do, it starts the 30-day notice period all over.  There is no eviction defense for a holdover, other than you did not give proper notice (or you continued to take rent).  It still requires a Court filing, and all of the expenses that go along with evictions.

Non-payment of rent.  This is the second easiest reason to evict for.  Once a tenant has not paid rent, you file eviction.  Some landlords file on the second of the month, some wait until the 10th, some wait several months listening to stories.  Rent is due on the first of the month.  Even if you have a grace period in which a late fee applies on the 5th, you can still file for an eviction on the 2nd of the month.  Once you get to Court, unless the tenant can come up with the rent, the Judge will order them out.  If the tenant has the rent, they stay.  I have heard cases that took over two months from the start of the Court filing before the unit was vacant, but most of the time it is two to three weeks.  Remember, the biggest mistake in non-payment evictions, is not removing the tenant soon enough.

Lease Violations.  These are difficult evictions.  Proving the violation is hard.  Having the Judge believe it is a material violation is another difficult part.  If the lease violation does not impair your ability to do business, or does not impact other tenants negatively, it may not be enough.  Extra tenants, pets, smoking, domestic violence, being messy, parked cars always in the way, unruly children, etc. are all things that you may want to evict on.  If you do not have a Police report, is makes for a difficult eviction.  Often a Judge will just let the tenant ‘cure’ the eviction.  Get rid of the pet, remove the visitor, stop smoking inside, etc.  It is wise to consult an attorney on lease violations.  If you knew about the violation, but continued to take in rent rather than evict, it is even harder.  Once you see a violation, you MUST evict immediately, or let the violation stand.  This is one of the main reasons you have to screen upfront, and not let in marginal tenants.

If the tenant has a violation of the Drug Free Crime Free addendum, be sure to get a police letter, or a police report.  Just bringing in a letter from the neighbors saying they saw a drug deal is not good enough.  Just saying you saw or smelled drugs is not enough.  Even if you have pictures you will have a difficult time.  Call 911 and get documentation of the violation.

Lease terminations in lieu of evictions.  Often, renters who cannot afford to pay rent, or are tenants that you just do not want; you can request the tenant leave.  If they agree, you simply sign a lease termination agreement with a fixed date, generally at the end of the nearest month.  It is cheap, effective and saves the tenant from a potential eviction.  It also saves you from an adverse relationship with the tenant, which is never good.  If it is a very bad tenant, you can even offer money to leave.  Especially if you do not have enough proof for a Court eviction.  Giving up $500 to the tenant to move out is cheaper than an eviction.  I personally have never paid a tenant to leave, but it is an option.  Bad tenants that know you are watching them will generally want to move.  They do not want to risk getting caught at something that makes it even worse for them.  They will want to move somewhere they can get a fresh start.

Expedited Evictions.  There is a process to fast track an eviction with a request for an expedited eviction.  When a tenant is involved in drugs, prostitution, crime or violence, you may request an expedited eviction.  You must file a request for the expedited hearing, which can reduce the time to as little as five days.  You should have documented proof of the violation, and you have to sign an affidavit indicating such.  In the case where a large quantity of drugs is found, the County Attorney can handle the eviction for you.

Attorney Needed.  In most Counties, if your eviction is filed under an LLC or corporation, or if your building is owned by an LLC or corporation, you must use an attorney.  This is an old rule now being enforced since March 2011.  You can no longer just use a paralegal, caretaker or property manager.  This adds to the expense of an eviction, and is another reason why you need to screen and eliminate tenants BEFORE they move in, not after.

Be sure to look at my “Coming Attractions” page and see what I have in store for upcoming articles.

Have you ever filed an eviction?   Or been evicted?  What was your reason?

4 Replies to “Evictions and Terminating Tenancies (in Minnesota)”

  1. This is some really great information! I hope I never have to deal with evicting a tenant, but I suppose if I continue to be a landlord it will happen at some point. Thanks for pointing this out -> ” If you knew about the violation, but continued to take in rent rather than evict, it is even harder. Once you see a violation, you MUST evict immediately, or let the violation stand. This is one of the main reasons you have to screen upfront, and not let in marginal tenants.”

    1. Thank you for stopping by and posting!

      A judge looks at a lease violation as something that must be material. In addition, if you take in rent after the violation, you set a precedent. Even after taking in late payments for months, you cannot all of a sudden evict on a late payment.

      I have not had an eviction for quite a while. Better tenants, with solid incomes, do not get evicted. Even bad tenants should move on without an eviction, but some bad tenants want to wait till the end. I will be posting about my rent collection progress on the first part of April. I expect to have all 25 rents in the bank by April 3.

      Good luck with your current tenants and future tenants!

  2. Interesting article. I didn’t realize evicting for lease violations was difficult until I recently consulted with a lawyer. What you said jives with what they told me. I never heard of the angle of just asking someone to leave without an eviction, however. I have heard of cash for keys, but in terms of trying to get someone out who isn’t responding to eviction, since here in IL they can drag on…

    1. Thank you for the comment and confirmation!

      Before a judge will look at taking away a home from a rent paying tenant, the lease violation needs to be ‘material’. That is subjective, and a rich landlord making someone get rid of their child’s favorite pet, might not be enough. Or just a police call or two might not warrant it. Or even a woman trying to reconcile with the children’s father(s), who might be a felon, and wants him to move in.

      Get better tenants to start with, and most of your troubles automatically go away.

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