Legal rights and duties of the landlord and tenant are determined by lease (rental agreement), state and federal laws, and city ordinances
. We link to many online resources for landlords and tenants offered by other agencies in Minnesota. You might also find materials at your local law library
For advice on what you should do in your situation, talk to a lawyer
An emergency rental assistance program will start soon. The MN Housing Finance Agency
recently launched RentHelpMN.org
where landlords and tenants can find information about the new program. While the program is not yet open for applications, the website has helpful information, including how landlords and tenants can prepare to apply.
A person authorized to act on behalf of someone else.
Also known as Small Claims Court, this court is for cases involving monetary and property claims of up to $15,000.
Emergency Tenant Remedies Action
A court case brought by a residential tenant because of the loss of essential services or facilities, including heat, water, and/or electricity.
A court proceeding for a landlord to remove a tenant or other occupant from the property. This gives legal possession of the property back to the landlord. This used to be called unlawful detainer.
A legal document issued by the court which states the time, place, and location of the first court hearing.
A specialty court created in Hennepin County and Ramsey County to hear and decide cases related to the possession of residential rental housing.
An agreement signed by the landlord and tenant for possession of real property, which states the terms and conditions that both parties must follow.
Notice to Vacate (also called a Notice to Quit)
A letter to end a lease that can be written by either the landlord or the tenant.
A lease that is renewed every payment period at the time rent is due. Periodic leases are typically renewed each month, which are often called “month-to-month” leases.
All property other than real property, including tangible property such as cars, jewelry, and furniture, and intangible property such as stocks, bonds, and cash in a bank account.
Power of Authority
A legal document authorizing an agent to appear in court on behalf of the landlord in Housing Court (Hennepin and Ramsey counties only).
Land and buildings or other improvements permanently attached to the land (also called real estate).
Rent Escrow Action
A court proceeding brought by a tenant to get a court order forcing the landlord to make repairs to the property. This requires the tenant to deposit rent with the court instead of paying it to the landlord.
Service: Mail and Post
The process of delivering an eviction summons and complaint to the named tenant when the tenant cannot be found after two attempts of personal service. See the Service by Mail and Post packet
for more information.
Hand delivery of documents to a named party in the case.
Hand delivery of documents to someone of suitable age who lives with a named party in the case.
The delivery of legal documents by someone who is not connected to the case.
Tenancy at Will
When the tenant has possession of the property by permission of the landlord but without a date for when the tenant has to leave. This typically occurs under a month-to-month lease.
Writ of Recovery of Premises
A legal document issued by the court after an eviction proceeding which allows the Sheriff's Office to remove a tenant from the property and return possession of the property to the landlord.
I let someone stay at my home and now they won't leave. How do I get them out?
Even if your houseguest never signed a lease or paid rent, it is possible that they may still be considered a tenant under MN law. If you have established a landlord-tenant relationship with your houseguest, then you will need to go through the eviction process to remove the tenant.
If you have not established a landlord-tenant relationship, there may be other non-court options you could try. See the Guests Who Stay Too Long Fact Sheet
for more information.
If there have been incidents or threats of domestic abuse, you may be able to ask the court for an Order for Protection. See the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Help Topic
for more information.
Talk to an attorney
if you don't know whether you have established a landlord-tenant relationship, or for advice about starting an eviction.
Can I evict my spouse?
Generally, a person who has an ownership interest in the property cannot be evicted. If there have been incidents or threats of domestic abuse, you may be able to ask the court for an Order for Protection. See the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Help Topic
for more information.
Can I rent a room in my home and collect rent?
Most cities require you to have a license to be able to rent and collect rent payments. Check your local city's ordinances for their specific requirements.
What is the "Cold Weather Rule" and how does it affect me?
In general, the Cold Weather Rule says that utilities cannot be disconnected if a residential customer enters into and makes reasonably timely payments under a payment agreement with the utility company. The Cold Weather Rule does not impact whether a landlord may evict a tenant.
Do I need to give my tenant notice before starting the eviction process?
It depends. If you have a written lease, read through the terms to see whether it requires a specific kind of notice. If you plan to bring an eviction case because the tenant has broken any of the terms of the lease, you generally do not have to give notice before starting the case. However, if the tenant has not broken the terms of the lease, notice is usually required. If you give the tenant a proper written notice to vacate and they do not leave by the date in your notice, you may be able to bring an eviction case based on their failure to leave.
To learn more, read the Notices to Vacate and Ending a Lease
fact sheet and the Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities
Notice requirements can be complicated. If you are not sure whether notice is required or what kind of notice to give, talk to a lawyer
for some legal advice.
How much notice do I need to give my tenant before starting the eviction process?
It depends on your lease, and also on why you are evicting your tenant. If your lease does not have a notice requirement, the statute states that you generally have to give the tenant notice of at least one month's rental period plus one day before starting an eviction proceeding. If you are evicting for nonpayment of rent, an eviction proceeding can be started the day after rent is due and unpaid.
There are exceptions to these timeframes. To figure out exactly how much notice you have to give your tenant, talk to a lawyer
. If you do not provide proper notice to your tenant before starting the eviction process, your case could be dismissed.
How do I serve my tenants with the notice to vacate?
If your lease agreement specifically states how the notice to vacate should be served, then you should follow the requirements of the lease. If your lease agreement does not say anything about this, you can deliver the notice to your tenant however you would like as long as the notice is written.
Can I evict my tenant if I accept partial rent?
It depends on your lease. Some leases have language that allows you to evict the tenant even you have accepted part of the rent. Talk to a lawyer
if you are not sure whether your lease allows for eviction after accepting partial rent from the tenant.
Can I change the locks on my tenant without going through the eviction process?
Legally, no. If you do, your tenant can sue you for an unlawful lockout and may be awarded triple damages or $500, whichever is greater.
How does foreclosure affect my duties as a landlord?
See the Foreclosure Help Topic
for more information on foreclosure. You should also talk to an attorney to get advice on how your duties may be affected.
How much time do I have to make repairs after being served a notice to repair, and what happens if I do not complete them?
As a landlord, you have a duty to make sure that the apartment or rental unit is fit to live in, kept in reasonable repair, and kept up to the standard of state and local housing codes. You have 14 days to make repairs after your tenant serves you with a notice to repair. Keep in mind you have to give your tenant advance notice that you will be coming to make repairs.
If you do not make the needed repairs, your tenant can start a court action called a "Rent Escrow.” In this type of a case, the tenant can pay their rent to the court instead of to you. After you show proof that the repairs have been made, the court will release the rent to you.
Can I file for eviction if my tenant fails to pay rent into court on a rent escrow?
Yes. You can file a counterclaim for possession into the existing rent escrow case. Another option is to file a new eviction case based on non-payment of rent. The court will generally try to schedule your eviction hearing on the same day as the rent escrow hearing.
Where do I file an eviction?
Evictions are filed in the county where the rental property is located.
How much does an eviction case cost?
The filing fee for an eviction case depends on the county you are filing in. See Fees
to learn about eviction filing fees in your county. Choose the county in the drop-down menu and select the Search button.
If you cannot afford the court filing fees, you can ask the judge for a waiver of the filing fee. See the Fee Waiver Help Topic
to learn how to ask for a fee waiver. This option is not available for businesses.
Can I evict someone living in my property if I do not know their name?
Yes, you can list a tenant as "John Doe" or "Jane Doe" if you do not know their name.
Do I need to list minor children as defendants in an eviction case?
No. Generally, a tenant must be 18 years old to be a named defendant in an eviction case. Minors living with their parent or other legal guardian are typically not listed as defendants.
If you believe your tenant is a minor who is emancipated, talk to an attorney
for advice about whether you can evict.
Do I have to be represented by an attorney?
It depends. Natural persons (non-businesses) can represent themselves in court. Businesses are generally required to be represented by an attorney, with a few exceptions that only apply in Hennepin and Ramsey County Housing Courts.
- In Ramsey County Housing Court, an agent may appear on behalf of:
- an individual,
- a sole proprietorship, or
- an association.
- In Hennepin County Housing Court, an agent may appear on behalf of:
- an individual,
- a sole proprietorship,
- an association,
- a corporation,
- a limited liability company, or
- a partnership.
In order for an agent to appear on behalf of a business in Hennepin or Ramsey County Housing Courts, a Power of Authority in Eviction Action
must be attached to the complaint at the time of filing for it to be effective. Otherwise, businesses must be represented by an attorney.
How can I speed up the eviction proceeding?
You can ask for an expedited (faster) hearing if your tenant is causing a nuisance or acting illegally and the tenant’s actions are seriously endangering the safety of other residents, their property, or your property. To request an expedited hearing, fill out and file the Affidavit in Support of Request for Expedited Hearing
. A judicial officer (a judge or referee) will decide whether your case can be expedited.
If the judicial officer determines that you do not meet the requirements for an expedited hearing, you will be fined a civil penalty of up to $500 for abusing this process.
How do I serve my tenants with the eviction summons and complaint?
An eviction summons and complaint must generally be personally served (hand delivered) to the tenant to start the case. For residential tenants, at least two attempts at personal service, with one attempt between the hours of 6:00 PM and 10:00 PM, must have been made before you can move on to serving them in a different way that is called service by mail and post.
For more detailed instructions on personal service, see Instructions - Eviction Action Complaint
. For more information on serving by mail and post, see Instructions - Service by Mail and Post
What do I do with personal property left behind by my tenant?
You generally have to store your tenant's personal property for 28 days after receiving a notice of abandonment, after it has become reasonably apparent that the unit has been abandoned, or after the tenants move because they have been served a Writ. You have a claim against your tenant for the cost of moving, storing, and caring for their property. For more information, see the Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities
When can I keep my tenant's security deposit?
Generally, you can keep the security deposit to cover any unpaid rent. For damage, a tenant is not responsible for normal wear and tear of the premises. However, if the damage left behind is more than normal wear and tear, you may be able to use the security deposit (or part of the security deposit) to pay for the damage. If you do withhold any of the security deposit, you have to give the tenant a written explanation as to why the deposit is not being returned within 21 days after the tenancy ends. For more information, see the Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities
How do I recover unpaid rent from my tenant?
Landlords can keep some or all of the security deposit to cover unpaid rent. If the deposit does not cover the full amount of rent owed, you can start a court action to recover unpaid rent from a tenant in either Conciliation Court
(if the amount is less than $15,000) or District Court
(if the amount is more than $15,000).
Do I need to respond and come to the court hearing when a former tenant files for an eviction expungement?
It is up to you whether you would like to respond and appear. If you do want to respond and tell the judge whether you agree or disagree with the expungement request, you generally need to do so at least 14 days before your hearing. If you do not respond, the judge may take that to mean that you do not object to the expungement.
Can I evict tenants during the pandemic?
It depends. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued an order pausing residential evictions
that is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The CDC order, along with Governor Walz’s Peacetime Emergency order,
prevents landlords from evicting residential tenants unless the tenant:
a. Seriously endangers the safety of other tenants;
b. Violates Minn. Stat. § 504B.171, subd. 1 (certain unlawful activities);
c. Remains in the property past the vacate date after receiving a notice to vacate or non-renewal due to the need to move the property owner or property owner’s family members into the property, and the property owner or property owner’s family moves into the property within 7 days after it is vacated by tenant; or
d. Materially violates a residential lease by the following actions on the premises, including common areas and curtilage of the premises:
(1) Seriously endangers the safety of others; or
(2) Significantly damages property.
If a tenant wants protection under the CDC order, they must fill out a declaration form
and give it to the landlord, owner of the residential property, or other person who could evict or have them removed from the property.
If you do not understand the CDC’s order or need help in figuring out what options you have as a landlord, you are encouraged to get legal advice. You can find legal advice resources on the Find a Lawyer Help Topic
Do tenants still have to pay rent during the pandemic?
Yes. Although most evictions in Minnesota are currently on pause, tenants are still required to pay rent as usual.
Are there options for tenants to get help with paying rent?
There are a few different programs that may offer rent assistance. Each program has different rules about eligibility, but some programs changed their rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact the organizations below for more information. You can also call 211
to learn about available housing resources.
COVID-19 Housing Assistance Program
: A new statewide housing assistance program.
County rent assistance
: Your county or tribal human services office may offer emergency housing assistance. Click the link for contact information.
The following counties have set up specific webpages with detailed information about emergency housing assistance during the pandemic:
City rent assistance: Some cities have created special programs to help pay rent. Check your city’s website or call your city office for more information.
Can I try to settle with the tenant or go to mediation?
Yes, you can talk to your tenant and see if you can work out a solution that you are both comfortable with. You can ask your tenant to go to mediation before you file an eviction, before you go to court, or at any time before the judge makes a final decision in your case. There are many different mediation resources. You can find more information about these options on the Alternative Dispute Resolution/Mediation Help Topic
and the Settle Out of Court Help Topic