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.

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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a few different programs that may be able to help you with rent.  Each program has different rules about eligibility, but some programs changed their rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  You may be eligible for help with your rent now even if you were not eligible before.  Contact the organizations below to see if you can get help with your rent. You can also call 211 to learn about available housing resources.

County rent assistance: Your county or tribal human services office may offer emergency housing assistance. Click the link for contact information.
City rent assistance: Some cities have created special programs to help pay rent. Check your city’s website or call your city office to see if there is help for renters in your city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As of August 1, 2023 you can file an Affidavit to Request Court-Appointed Attorney (Eviction) if the property at issue is public housing, you cannot afford an attorney, and the issues listed in the eviction complaint include more than non-payment of rent. See Minn. Stat. § 504B.268.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Eviction cases are generally accessible to the public unless a court order says the case is non-public.  One way the court may order a case to be non-public is through the expungement process. (See below for more information about expungement).
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. 

If your 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 and the FAQs below.
The law allows courts to expunge eviction cases, but only in situations where the tenant can prove that 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."
Your eviction case may qualify for a mandatory expungement by court order if:
  • The eviction was due to certain contract for deed cancellation or mortgage foreclosure scenarios (see Minn. Stat. § 484.014 and Minn. Stat. § 504B.285, subd. 1(1) for more details);
  • The case was settled and you bring a motion for expungement after you have completed the terms of the settlement;
  • The court order was issued on or after January 1, 2024, and
    • You won the case on the merits;
    • The court dismissed the complaint for any reason;
    • The parties to the action have agreed to an expungement; or
    • Three years have passed since the eviction was ordered.
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.
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.
Yes, you can talk to your landlord and see if you can work out a solution that you are both comfortable with.  You can ask your landlord to go to mediation before they 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
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 file an Eviction Answer if you have been served with an Eviction Action Complaint.  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.
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