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How to Evict a Tenant: Minnesota Law

December 16, 2013

When all other avenues have failed and you have real grounds for evicting a tenant from your property, it is important to know that Minnesota law has a strict legal process for doing so.

Grounds for eviction include

  • non-payment of rent

  • the tenant refusing to move after the expiration of a lease after having received proper notice

  • cancellation of a Contract for Deed mortgage foreclosure

  • a lease violation

Lease violations can mean anything from crime-related activity like doing or selling drugs to disturbing the neighbors, to wilful and malicious destruction of the landlord’s property. If drugs valued at over $100 is found on the premises than an action must be brought by the landlord or their attorney within 15 days.

judge judy

A Housing Court referee is the only person who has the right to issue an order to evict your tenant and everything has to be done in accordance with the law. This means that the landlord cannot restrict access to the property or try to forcibly remove the tenant themselves.

So, what is the process the landlord should follow?

  1. File a Complaint (or have an appointed attorney file it) for each of the residents to be evicted – naming and detailing each one. All Complaints are filed at the court and a fee paid for each. The case is normally heard within 7 to 14 days (sooner if an illegal activity is the reason for the eviction).

  2. The landlord should inform the tenants in writing that a Complaint has been filed, and post the contact details of who is managing the property somewhere conspicuous on the building.

  3. Someone other than you or anyone else named in the court case must serve the tenant with a Summons at least seven days before the court date. Serving the Summons should not be done on a Sunday or legal holiday. Proof of that service should then be filed with the court.

  4. On the day of the trial it’s up to the landlord to provide proof that they’re entitled to regain possession of the property in the form of documents, photographs or third party testimony. If a decision is made in the landlord’s favor, a Writ of Recovery will be issued. This is then posted by the Sheriff at the property at least 24 hours before the tenant is to be evicted. Issuing the writ may be suspended for seven days if it’s proven that eviction will cause substantial hardship.

  5. If the tenant doesn’t vacate the premises, a move-out date should be agreed with the Sheriff and the tenant informed of it. A law enforcement officer is the only person who can carry out the eviction.

Note: if non-payment is the only issue, then the tenant has the right to pay and stay, providing they pay everything owed plus interest and $5 in fees to the attorney (if one was appointed by the landlord), plus the costs of the action to the court. If payment has been withheld because repairs have not been carried out by the landlord, and the Referee agrees with the tenant, then the Referee may ask that the rent be reduced partly or completely.

Recovering unpaid rent from the tenant is not part of the court’s jurisdiction. Should the Referee decide in favor of the landlord: the landlord has to bring a separate action through the Conciliation Court or District Court.

If the Referee decides in favor of the tenant, then the eviction case is expunged (ie, removed) from the court record and the tenant’s screening service record (if a screening service has been used).

As to the tenant’s personal property, if it hasn’t been removed by or on the move-out date, then an inventory of the property should be made in the presence of the law officer. This then has to be signed and dated by that officer. It’s then up to the landlord to store the property, either on the premises or in a storage unit. The tenant is liable for all costs associated with storage and, wherever the property is. The tenant can send a demand in writing to have it returned. The tenant is liable for all reasonable costs involved in retrieving it. The landlord cannot hold onto the property in lieu of unpaid rent.

These are the main points to follow when launching an eviction action. Forms for filing an eviction and lots more advice are available at http://www.mncourts.gov/

Do you have any experience or stories on having to evict a tenant? Let us know in the comments below or send us a tweet @ProLandlord!