In Minnesota, you can be evicted for a number of different reasons, including not paying rent or violating the lease. However, there may be a few things you can do to postpone the eviction, or perhaps even stop it altogether.
Unlike most states, a landlord in Minnesota is not required to give you an eviction notice, unless the lease or rental agreement specifically requires it, before filing an eviction lawsuit for failing to pay rent or violating the lease or rental agreement. If you violate the lease or don’t pay rent, the first notice you will likely receive is paperwork from the courthouse regarding the eviction lawsuit (see Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 504B.291 and 504B.285).
If you have a month-to-month rental or lease agreement, then your landlord is required to give you a written notice to vacate. The length of time in this notice is either three months or the amount of time between rental payments (typically one month), whichever is shorter (see Minn. Stat. Ann. § 504B.135).
For more information on how to end a lease, see Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities, published by the Minnesota attorney general.
If you do receive a notice to vacate, it is important to note that you are not automatically evicted when the time period runs out. If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can remain living in the rental unit until a judge officially orders an eviction. An eviction is a legal proceeding. Depending on how busy the courts are, it could take anywhere from a week to months before a sheriff is ordered to evict you on a certain date. You can remain living in the rental unit until the sheriff is ordered to evict you, but remember that you will be required to pay the landlord rent until the day you move out of the unit.
Also, keep in mind that there are negative consequences to being evicted, other than losing your home. An eviction will have a negative impact on your credit report, and it could affect your prospects for future housing. Some landlords will not rent to people who have been evicted from a previous location.
For more information on the eviction process in Minnesota, see The Eviction Process in Minnesota. Also, if you are being evicted because the rental property is being foreclosed, see the Nolo article Rights of Renters in Foreclosure.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy to stop your eviction, you should look at Evictions and the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy may not stop an eviction, and you should carefully consider your options before doing so.
If you receive an eviction notice or you think your landlord is going to file an eviction lawsuit against you, you should first try talking to your landlord. You may be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord may be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease. If you can’t come to an agreement that prevents you from moving out, perhaps you can agree on a certain date and time for when you will move out of the rental unit.
If you and the landlord are able to agree on anything, be sure to get the agreement in writing, signed and dated by both of you.
If you and your landlord are not able to reach an agreement, then your landlord can file the eviction lawsuit with the court. You will receive a copy of the paperwork after your landlord files. You need to review this paperwork very carefully. It will have information in it regarding an upcoming hearing with a judge and information on whether you need to file any paperwork, such as an answer, before attending this hearing. An answer is a document that allows you to state the reasons why you should not be evicted. This is where you need to put any defenses to the eviction, such as the landlord using “self-help” procedures to evict the tenant. In Minnesota, it is illegal for a landlord to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit by shutting off the power or changing the locks at the rental unit. This type of behavior is often referred to as a “self-help” eviction (see Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 504B.221, 504B.225, 540B.231, and 540B.375). For more ideas on possible defenses against an eviction, see Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Minnesota. You should also contact a lawyer to ensure you are using the best defenses available to you.
Regardless of whether you are required to file an answer, a hearing will be scheduled. You must attend this hearing. At the hearing, the judge will consider both sides of the argument and make a decision regarding the eviction. If you do not attend this hearing, the judge will likely rule in favor of the landlord.
Even if you don’t have any defenses against the eviction, you should still attend the hearing and talk to the judge. Depending on your circumstances (such as if you have minor children living at home or health issues), the judge might not schedule the eviction right away. The judge might give you a little extra time to prepare and move out of the rental unit before ordering a sheriff to perform the eviction. Keep in mind, though, that you will still owe your landlord rent until you move out of the rental unit.