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Unlawful Detainers (Eviction Actions)

An Unlawful Detainer (eviction action) is a legal proceeding conducted in District Court for the purpose of returning the right of possession of rental property to the landlord. To bring such an action the landlord must have a legitimate reason. The court will determine whether the tenant should be evicted or remain on the property.

Common Reasons for Filing an Eviction Action Complaint
· Non-payment of rent
· Tenant's failure to vacate after proper notice has been received or given or after the lease has expired
· Violation of the terms of the lease which provides for Eviction
· Expiration of redemption period following Cancellation of a Contact for Deed or Foreclosure of a mortgage
· Tenant violation of drug or nuisance covenant

Cites: Minn. Stat. §§ 504B.285, 504B.171, and 504B.301

Who can file and sign Complaint?
· Plaintiff (who must be the landlord, as defined in Minn. Stat. § 504B.001, subd. 7); or
· Attorney for Plaintiff; or
· Person with power of attorney from the Plaintiff. The Power of Attorney must be filed with the Complaint

NOTE:  See Unlawful Detainer/Eviction Advisory Notice for information on corporate representation.

Required Contents of the Complaint: Minn. Stat. § 504B.321
1. Full name and date of birth of the person(s) against whom the complaint is made, unless it is not known. Minor children of a tenant should not be listed. Note: The lack of full name and date of birth does not deprive court of jurisdiction or make the complaint invalid.
2. Description of the premises (address and apartment number)
3. Facts authorizing recovery of possession.
4. A request for recovery of possession.
5. If the complaint alleges breach of a written lease, a copy of the lease should be attached.
6. If the complaint alleges holding over after termination of the lease, a copy of the termination notice, if any, should be attached.

Filing Process
1. Complaint must be filed in the county where the property is located.
2. Plaintiff pays the civil filing fee.
3. Court staff prepares a summons and attach a copy of the complaint.
4. Court staff sets the court date neither less than 7 nor more than 14 days from the day the summons is issued.
5. Court staff returns the original summons, with a copy of the complaint attached, to the Plaintiff for service.

Service of the Summons and Complaint: Minn. Stat. § 504B.331
There are three different ways to accomplish service: personal, substitute, and post and mail. Plaintiff must first attempt personal service. If Plaintiff is unable to serve defendant personally because defendant cannot be found in the county, then plaintiff may use substitute service or post and mail service.

A. Personal Service
Summons must be served at least seven days before the date of the court appearance in the manner provided for service of a summons in a civil action in district court. It may be served by any person not named a party to the action. (IF EXPEDITED - SEE BELOW)

B. Substitute Service
Use only if defendant cannot be found in the county. Failure of the sheriff to serve the defendant is prima facie proof that the defendant cannot be found in the county.

Substitute means serving the summons at least seven days before the date of the court appearance by:

1. leaving a copy at the defendant's last usual place of abode with a person of suitable age and discretion residing therein or
2. if the defendant had no place of abode, by leaving a copy at the property described in the complaint with a person of suitable age and discretion occupying the premises.

C. Posting and mailing
When defendant cannot be found in the county, service of the summons may be made upon the defendant by posting the summons in a conspicuous place on the property for not less than one week if:

1. The property described in the complaint is:
a. nonresidential and no person actually occupies the property; or
b. residential and service has been attempted at least twice on different days, with at least one of the attempts having been made between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.; and

2. Plaintiff or Plaintiff's Attorney has signed and filed an affidavit stating:
a. defendant cannot be found or that the plaintiff or plaintiff's attorney believes the defendant is not in the state, and
b. a copy of summons has been mailed to defendant at defendant's last known address if any is known to the plaintiff.