Face coverings required in court facilities.
The response to COVID-19 has impacted access to courthouses and may change the way cases are handled.
Learn more »

Tenant Resources

The rights and duties of tenants in Minnesota are spelled out in federal law, state statutes, local ordinances, safety and housing codes, common law, contract law, and a number of court decisions. These responsibilities can vary from place to place around the state.

Related Links:

Legal rights and duties of the landlord and tenant are determined by lease (rental agreement), state and federal laws, and city ordinances. This information includes links to many helpful resources for residential 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.

Agent

A person authorized to act on behalf of someone else.

Conciliation Court

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.

Eviction

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.

Eviction Summons

A legal document issued by the court which states the time, place, and location of the first court hearing.

Housing Court

A specialty court created in Hennepin County and Ramsey County to hear and decide cases related to the possession of residential rental housing.

Lease

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.

Periodic Lease

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.

Personal Property

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).

Real property

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.

Service: Personal

Hand delivery of documents to a named party in the case.

Service: Substitute

Hand delivery of documents to someone of suitable age who lives with a named party in the case.

Service: Third-Party

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.

Can the landlord evict me without going to court?

No. The only way to legally evict a tenant is for the landlord to start a court case and get an order from the judge saying you are evicted. The landlord would have to have you served with a Summons and Complaint that tells you when and where the court hearing will be held and the reason they are asking for you to be evicted. If the judge agrees, they will issue an order for the eviction.

Eviction is different than ending the lease. If the landlord gives you a proper written notice to vacate and you do not leave by the date in your notice, they may be able to ask a judge to consider evicting you based on your 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 booklet.

What can I do if the landlord locked me out and will not let me back in?

It is illegal for a landlord to physically lock a tenant out of their rental unit or otherwise keep them from living there (for example, by removing locks, doors, or windows) without a court order. If you have been locked out of your home by the landlord, you can start a court action to get back into the property by filing a Petition for Possession of Rental Property After Unlawful Lockout.

For more information, read through the Lock-Outs and Shut-Offs to Evict are Illegal fact sheet.

What can I do if the landlord kept my security deposit?

Generally, a landlord must return the security deposit, plus interest, to the tenant within 21 days of the move-out date OR give the tenant a written explanation as to why the landlord is keeping some or all of the security deposit. Reasons a landlord might keep the security deposit include:
 
  • non-payment of rent,
  • damage to property beyond normal wear and tear, and/or
  • other money tenant owes to landlord (for example, for an unpaid water bill, if there was an agreement that tenant would pay the water bill).
If you believe the landlord has wrongly kept your security deposit, you can sue the landlord in Conciliation Court to recover the money.

For more information, see the Security Deposits fact sheet.

What can I do if the landlord shuts off utilities?

Sometimes a landlord shuts off a utility (heat, water, electricity, etc.) on purpose as a way to force a tenant to leave. Sometimes the loss of a utility or other essential service is not intentional, but the landlord failed to keep up with repairs or pay utility bills.

In cases of emergency, a tenant may start an action in court for the loss of: running water, hot water, heat, electricity, sanitary facilities (e.g., toilet, shower/bathtub, etc.), or other essential service that the landlord is responsible for providing (for example, an elevator in a tall building).

The court usually schedules these types of cases very quickly. The tenant should let the landlord know 24 hours in advance that the tenant plans to take the case to court.
If the court finds there is a problem because of the landlord, the court may:
 
  • order the landlord to fix the problem right away,
  • order the tenant to make the repairs (and deduct the cost of the repairs from the rent payment), or
  • appoint an administrator to use the rent money to make the repairs.
 
See the Lock-Outs and Shut-Offs to Evict are Illegal fact sheet for more information.

Can I be evicted for reporting a housing code violation?

No. Your landlord is required to keep your home in good condition so that it is fit to live in.   They cannot evict you if the only reason is for reporting a violation to the housing code inspector.

If my landlord refuses to make repairs, can I pay my rent to the court until they do?

Yes. A rent escrow action is a legal way for a residential tenant to bring a claim that requires the landlord to make needed repairs or to follow the terms of the lease. This type of case must be filed in the county where the rental property is located and the tenant must be currently living in the property.

A tenant cannot be evicted on the basis of demanding repairs, calling a Housing Inspector or starting a rent escrow action.  The tenant can be evicted for not paying the rent due to the landlord up to the time of filing the rent escrow action or not depositing the full amount with the court at the time the action is filed. The landlord may also claim that there are other reasons the tenant should be evicted.

I was evicted and the landlord is going to get a Writ of Recovery. Is there anything I can do to stop the sheriff from removing me from the home?

If you have a strong reason why the sheriff should not remove you according to the Writ of Recovery, you may be able to ask the court to set it aside by bringing a motion to quash the writ. The court can only quash a Writ of Recovery for the reasons found in Minnesota Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02.

The MN Judicial Branch does not publish forms for bringing a motion to quash a Writ of Recovery. If you would like to make this kind of motion, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
 

I had to leave some personal property behind when I was evicted. How can I get my property back?

The landlord is required by law to store any personal property that is left behind after you have been removed from the home. They can store your property either on the premises or somewhere else.

If the landlord chooses to store your property on the premises (at your home), you can send them a letter demanding the property be returned. The landlord is required to return your property within 24 hours of getting your letter. If the landlord does not return your property, you can sue to get it back.

If the landlord chooses to store your property off the premises (somewhere else), you will need to pay all of the costs of packing, moving, and storage before you can get your property back. If you do not pay those costs within 28 days, the landlord can sell the property to pay for their costs.

For more information about this process, see the Tenants’ Rights in Minnesota booklet.

My eviction case was dismissed, why is it still on my record?

Once an eviction case is filed, it will continue to be available as a public court record until you ask for the case to be expunged (sealed) or the file is destroyed according to the District Court Record Retention Schedule. The case will show that it was dismissed, but it will still appear on your court record.

If your dismissed eviction case is making it hard for you to rent, you may be able to file a motion to ask for the case to be expunged (sealed).

For more information, see the Expunging an Eviction Case fact sheet.

Can I ask for an eviction case to be removed from my record?

Yes. Landlords often do background checks on new tenants, and they may look at court records to see if there are past eviction cases involving the tenant(s). There are also screening companies who provide this service for a fee. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to have an eviction record expunged (sealed) so that landlords and screening companies cannot see the record.

If your dismissed eviction case is making it hard for you to rent, you may be able to file a motion to ask for the case to be expunged (sealed).

For more information, see the Expunging an Eviction Case fact sheet.

When can a judge grant an eviction expungement?

The law allows courts to expunge eviction cases, but only in situations where the tenant can prove all of the following: 
 
  • the landlord's eviction case was "sufficiently" without basis in fact or law,
  • the expungement is "clearly in the interest of justice," AND
  • the "interest of justice" is not outweighed by the "public's interest in knowing the record."
Every case is different, but good reasons to ask for an expungement include cases where:
 
  • the tenant won the eviction case started by the landlord.
  • the parties settled the eviction case with an agreement, and the landlord agreed that they did not have good legal reasons for starting the case.
  • the tenant lost the eviction case by default because they never got the court papers from the landlord.

How do I ask for an eviction expungement?

You can use the forms in the Expungement of Eviction Record packet to ask for your eviction record to be expunged.

There is a fee to file a Motion for Expungement. The fee amount depends on where the case is filed and whether you ever paid the initial filing fee in the case (generally done if you filed an Eviction Answer). If you have a low income or cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court for a Fee Waiver.

For more information, see the Expunging an Eviction Case fact sheet. Talk to an attorney if you need legal advice.

Why was my application for housing denied even though my case was expunged?

The landlord of the housing you applied for may have checked with a tenant screening agency to see whether you had any eviction cases against you. Tenant screening companies can’t report an eviction once they know it has been expunged, but you do need to give them notice about the expungement. For more information about how to give this notice, read the “What should I do if I get an expungement?” section of the Expunging an Eviction Case fact sheet.

Landlords may also deny your application for housing if you have a criminal case that shows up on a background check. For more information about expunging a criminal case, see the Criminal Expungement Help Topic.
 
The Minnesota Judicial Branch publishes many forms for landlord/tenant disputes, including forms for eviction, rent escrow and repairs, expungement of housing records, and more. There are statewide versions of the forms, as well as local versions. If a form is listed as statewide, it can be used in any Minnesota District Court. If a form is listed for a specific district, it can only be used in that district.

Housing Court Forms

*New!* Use Minnesota Guide & File to create the forms you need to start an Eviction case.  You may be able to file the forms electronically (eFile) through Guide & File, depending on your case.  For more information, visit our Guide & File Help Topic.

Non-Court Housing Forms:
 
If you are representing yourself in a housing case in Minnesota, you are responsible for following the same laws and rules as an attorney. Read Rights and Duties of Self-Represented Parties.

The following is a list of some of the laws and rules that deal with tenant issues in Minnesota.
  You can get more help with your legal research at law libraries throughout Minnesota. County law libraries are open to the public, but hours will vary. Click MN County Law Libraries to see a directory of law libraries and their hours. You may also be able to get help with legal research from the State Law Library.

Talk with a lawyer to learn how the laws and rules may affect your case.
Related Links: