A Minnesota eviction process can differ from county to county, but they all more or less follow the same process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the information in the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that could be exploited by the tenant, especially the history of rent payments.
Filing an eviction action takes time and patience. Going to court may be a long and tedious experience for a landlord who handles multiple properties.
It can also cost a landlord more money than it's worth. For example, merely filing a complaint in Douglas county will already cost the landlord $295.
Most landlords are advised to try to work things out with a tenant outside court. It is only in extreme cases when a landlord resorts to file for an official eviction action.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures and information with your justice court to ensure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
Alternatively, a landlord can also ask for legal advice from an attorney for more information on the eviction rules. The best legal advice will come from an attorney who is well-versed in Minnesota legal law.
A landlord is advised to be wary of the service fees associated with an attorney. But despite all that, an attorney can be of huge service to a landlord when it comes to the court hearing.
The first step all evictions must take is providing a notice called a Notice to Quit. There are only some states which do not require a Notice to Quit, and even then, it depends on the reason for eviction.
The notice serves to notify the tenant that they are in danger of eviction by providing the reason for eviction and how long a tenant has to pay, comply, or leave before the process begins. A landlord cannot evict any tenants without this notice.
And, no matter the reason for eviction, the landlord cannot do a self-help eviction, which is an illegal form of eviction that has consequences for the landlord.
Furthermore, a landlord cannot do a retaliatory eviction, which is another form of illegal eviction that is brought on by attempting to evict a tenant for reporting the landlord's irresponsibilities to a local government agency.
In the state of Minnesota, there are four main reasons for a tenant to be evicted:
- Failure to pay rent or nonpayment of rent
- Violation of the lease/rental agreement
- Conducting illegal activity
- Non-renewal of the lease after the end of the rental period
Learn how the eviction process for each reason should be handled. Information such as appropriate notice periods can be found below.
1. Failure to pay rent or nonpayment of rent
The most common reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent. A landlord can evict a tenant for failing to pay the rent on time.
Rent is considered late in Minnesota a day past its due. For example, if rent is due on the 25th and the tenant has not been able to pay the rent by the 26th, then rent is considered late or past due, and the landlord may give an eviction notice.
However, a grace period to extend payment of timely rent may be available if the landlord and tenant could include that stipulation in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start with the eviction action for failure to pay past due rent, the landlord must give the tenant a written 14 Days' Notice to Quit. This means a tenant must move out of the property in 14 days to avoid eviction.
If tenants who are being evicted for not paying rent on time manage to pay all past due rent in full to the landlord before the 14 days are up, the entire eviction process stops, and they can continue staying within the rental premises.
A landlord can file for an eviction action for tenants who do not vacate or leave the rental premises by the end of their notice period. This only applies to at-will tenants or tenants who have not signed a written lease/rental agreement or contract with the landlord.
Landlords are not required to give a written notice to tenants who are on a fixed-term lease or are not tenants-at-will. They may proceed to file an eviction against the tenant immediately for not paying rent on time.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A lease agreement can vary from tenant to tenant. It contains the responsibilities of each party during the entire duration of the tenant's stay.
A tenant may face eviction for violating the terms of the lease. Landlords and tenants are required to uphold the terms of the lease agreement at all times.
The landlord can evict the tenant for violating any of the terms stipulated in the lease. Then, the landlord must give the tenant some form of notice that informs the tenant of their violation, and that they are about to be evicted.
The landlord may allow the tenant time to cure the violation, but they are not required by Minnesota law to do so. There is no specific notice period for this type of eviction because it will depend on what was indicated in the lease (if any).
Lease violations in a Minnesota eviction include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Failing to comply with housing codes
- Too many people are living inside the rental unit
- Housing a pet in a pet-free rental unit or rental premises, etc.
The landlord may continue with an eviction action if the tenant remains inside the rental unit after the given notice period.
3. Conducting illegal activity
In the state of Minnesota, landlords and tenants have to refer to their written lease agreement to handle cases involving illegal activity. Minnesota law does not specify a required notice for this category.
If a tenant has engaged in illegal activity on the rental premises, the landlord must follow the regulations stipulated in the lease.
Examples of illegal activity include, but are not limited to:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Human trafficking and/or prostitution
- Possession and/or firing of an illegal firearm
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
In minor cases involving illegal activity, the landlord may offer the tenant a chance to cure the violation, but they do so at their own risk; they are not required to do so.
Should the tenant remain on the rental premises after their notice period ends, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.
4. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period
A Minnesota eviction process does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
However, if the tenant becomes a "holdover" tenant, the eviction process may begin after the appropriate notice period.
A holdover tenant is someone who overstays their lease term without applying for a renewal. A landlord can evict a tenant who stays in the property even a day after their written lease ends (and has not arranged for a renewal).
This type of notice or eviction usually only applies if the landlord wants to end the tenant's lease. The required notice time given to a tenant depends on their tenancy type and can range from a 7-Day Notice to Quit to a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
Should the tenant remain in the rental premises even after their notice period ends, the landlord may continue to file an eviction action in order to evict the tenant from the property.
Filing a Complaint
The next step to a state of Minnesota eviction process is filing a legal complaint in the correct justice court. Costs for filing may be pricey, so be ready to pay for the costs.
A landlord must file a complaint only after the notice period has passed. Successful evictions rely on correct filings, so the landlord must file all the forms correctly.
1. Steps in filing an eviction action
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- Fill out the forms
- Pay the filing costs
It takes 24 hours to 30 days, depending on the reason for eviction before a landlord can file a complaint. The 24 hours' notice period can fall under the categories wherein both parties must review their written lease agreement.
Serving the Tenant
The next step in an eviction process is serving the Summons and Complaint to the tenant. The landlord must not serve the documents by themselves.
The Summons and its supporting documents must contain information such as the date and time of the court trial.
Minnesota allows individuals who are uninvolved in the case to serve these documents. They must be delivered within 24 hours from when the court issued the Summons for evictions related to illegal activity.
For all other types of evictions (such as nonpayment of rent, lease violations, etc.), the documents must be served at least 7 days before the eviction hearing.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The Summons and its corresponding documents must be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and Complaint is served to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable and personal service cannot be conducted, a copy of the Summons and Complaint may be left at the tenant's place of residence or rental unit with someone who lives with them.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
In the state of Minnesota, tenants do not need to file an answer with the court for a trial to be scheduled. The tenant must attend the hearing if they wish to provide their own defense.
Once the Summons and Complaint have been served on the tenant, they can request a continuance that lasts no longer than 6 months and no earlier than 6 days, but only if they can prove that they need the time to bring forward an important witness to testify.
The landlord may also request for a continuance that lasts no longer than 6 days.
The Summons and Complaint must be served 24 hours to 7 days after the court issues it, depending on the reason for eviction.
A continuance may be filed by either party that lasts 6 days to 6 months.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession
To win and accomplish this step, landlords must provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against their tenants. Should the tenants fail to show up to the hearing, the landlords may win by default.
Either party may appeal the judgment within 15 days from the time Judgment for Possession was issued by the court.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
Filing an answer is not necessary for an eviction hearing to be held or scheduled. The court trial must continue and come to order.
Should the tenant be unable to attend the hearing, the judge may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord. This means the tenant must move out of the rental property.
However, if both parties are present, the landlord must support their claim with evidence and show it to the judge. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations committed by the tenant
Either landlord or tenant can ask for a court hearing held in front of a jury, but doing so will add more time to the eviction process and possibly move the date of the court hearing.
Alternatively, either party may also enlist the service of an attorney to assist them in court or to handle the case altogether.
A hearing for an eviction action is scheduled depending on the reason for eviction. If the eviction action was related to illegal activity, then it is held 5-7 days from the issuance of a Summons from the court.
Any other type of eviction action requires 7-14 days from the day the court issues a Summons.
An appeal adds 15 days to the entire process.
1. After the landlord wins the case and gets a Writ of Recovery
Once the landlord wins the case and provided the tenant does not file for an appeal or reconsideration, the court will issue a Writ of Recovery immediately after the court rules in the landlord's favor.
The Writ of Recovery is a court order that informs the tenant that the tenant must move out of their housing on the property or else they will be forcibly evicted. If the tenant fails to do so, they will be forcibly evicted.
2. Move out process
This final step in the eviction process is to move the tenant out of their housing on the property. Minnesota laws dictate that tenants have a maximum of 24 hours to vacate the property once the Writ of Recovery is posted or delivered to their unit.
However, if the eviction did not involve illegal activity, the tenant may request a stay of execution that lasts no longer than 7 days if they can prove that moving out will create hardship. This means they can stay in their rental unit or within the premises longer.
For evictions involving nonpayment of rent, a tenant may choose this extra time (or the 24 hours) to pay all costs associated with their eviction, such as due rent, court costs, fees charged by an attorney for their service, etc.
Tenants who manage to pay all these costs before being forcibly evicted by law enforcement officers from the premises may continue their tenancy in the rental property. The entire eviction process is stopped despite all the costs the landlord has incurred over the duration of the eviction.
Sometimes a tenant can leave behind personal property after a forced eviction. The tenant's personal property has to be stored by the landlord for at least 28 days. Landlords are advised to contact the tenant to retrieve their personal property, but they are not obliged to do so.
A tenant can also be sued for the costs associated with storing their property.
Should a landlord choose to dispose of the tenant's personal property, then they must once again inform the tenant of their plan 14 days before selling. However, if a tenant manages to claim their personal property within that period, all plans to sell said property must be stopped.
A tenant has 24 hours to 7 days to leave the rental premises from the moment the Writ of Recovery is delivered to them. This depends on whether the tenant received a stay of execution.
A tenant's personal property must be stored for at least 28 days before the landlord can do anything with it, and then another 14 days if the landlord chooses to sell it.
Minnesota Eviction Process Timeline
It takes an average of 2 weeks to 3 months for a complete eviction process.
Eviction hearings are scheduled in court depending on the reason for eviction.
Evictions related to illegal activity are held earlier with a range of 5-7 days from the date the court issued the Summons. Meanwhile, all other types of evictions (such as failure to pay rent) have a range of 7-14 days after the court issues the Summons.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire, but can still help in the eviction process.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it can be very useful to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, any of these methods are useful in proving the violation:
- Security Cameras - A surveillance system that records any violation can make it much easier to win the case in court and is very hard to dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Minnesota?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
It is against Minnesota law to not provide a tenant with the appropriate written notice before proceeding with an eviction action.
In the state of Minnesota, tenants can sue their landlords for whichever is greater between treble amounts and $500. Landlords may also be charged the tenant's attorney service fees.
Furthermore, a landlord may be found guilty of a misdemeanor for attempting to commit this type of eviction action.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Minnesota?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenants' electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent tenants from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenants' property
Can I evict someone during the winter in Minnesota?
Yes. Although most countries do not allow forced evictions of a tenant from their home during winter months, the state of Minnesota allows such evictions.
The Minnesota "Cold Weather Rule" does not stipulate that a tenant cannot be forcefully evicted during the winter months. It is mainly about how a tenant cannot have a service disconnection if it affects their primary heating source.
What other laws should I be aware of in Minnesota?
A landlord should be aware of any information regarding the COVID-19 Eviction Policies.
Landlords must also check out information about laws on Security Deposits. One needs to learn how these deposits can protect the landlord when there is unpaid rent or repairs.
Knowing at least one of these laws will help a landlord win an eviction lawsuit.
- eForms: Minnesota Eviction Notice Forms
- NOLO: Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws & Responsibilities in Minnesota
- iProperty Management: Minnesota Eviction Process
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Minnesota: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- National Apartment Association: COVID-19 Information for Minnesota
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: Minnesota Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines