Tenant and Landlord Bill of Rights in Minnesota
There is a booklet provided by the state of minnesota called Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities. STATE OF MINNESOTA LINK It was put out by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and offers more detailed answers, extra resources, contact references, and information that may be of help regarding your particular situation. Since Police Officers often get involved in these types of situations, the following is a summary from that book of the more important things to be aware of:
Unlawful Acts by Landlord
- A landlord who locks out a tenant is guilty of a misdemeanor crime. (MS 504B.225 and MS 609.606) A lockout occurs when a landlord intentionally removes or excludes a tenant from the rental property by changing locks or alters the electrical, heat, gas, or water services.
- A tenant who has been unlawfully locked out may petition the district court to get back in.
- A landlord cannot hold the tenant’s property hostage for unpaid rent. This is called ‘Distress for Rent’. Although the remedy for Distress for Rent has been abolished, the holding of the property may constitute Theft as the landlord intentionally and without claim of right has taken property of another with the intent of giving it back only if the owner pays a reward or buys it back. (MS 609.52 Subdivision 2  [iii])
- If the tenant abandons the property, any personal property left behind must be cared for by the Landlord for up to 60 days and it must also be returned to the former tenant upon written request. Property left beyond the 60 day threshold becomes forfeited.
Right to Privacy
- A Landlord must make a good faith effort to notify the tenant of the date and time they wish to enter the property and for what reason. Such entry must be for a legitimate business purpose; i.e. Showing the unit to any prospective tenants or buyers, performing maintenance work, or checking to see if the tenant has moved out. If the tenant is not home at the time of entry, the landlord must leave written notice that access was gained to the premises.
- A landlord is required to have a written lease if there are 12 or more residential units. A landlord that does not comply with this statute is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. (MS 504B.111)
- In every lease whether oral or written, there is a covenant that neither party will allow controlled substances, prostitution, or other illegal activity on the premises. If the tenant break this covenant, the landlord can bring an unlawful detainer (eviction notice) court proceeding to have the tenant forcibly removed.
- Excluding a written lease, if either the tenant wants to move out, or the landlord wishes to evict the tenant, it is required by law to give a minimum notice of the next normal rent period plus one day.
- After the notification expiration ends, if the tenant has not left the property, the Landlord must file for an Eviction Order from the Court having jurisdiction over the matter. The Landlord can not forcibly remove the tenant or their property.
- After the Sheriff’s Office or Police Department has served or posted the Eviction Notice and the appropriate time has passed, then Law Enforcement can remove the tenant and property by Order of the Court.
Unlawful Acts by Tenant
- The tenant may be held criminally liable for intentional damages to the premises. The severity of the crime is dependant upon the amount of the damage done to the premises. (MS 609.595)
- A tenant who lies on their rental application is guilty of Theft. (MS 609.52 Subdivision 2 )
- In addition to any lease notification requirements, a tenant moving out between November 15 and April 15 must give the landlord 3 days notice. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and is called the cold weather notice – allowing the landlord to ensure the property is not damaged due to the cold weather (MS 504B.155) if applicable.
- Tenants must be aware that Minnesota’s Clean Air Act prohibits smoking within all commons areas of any multi-housing or apartment building. Tenants may smoke in the privacy of their rented house or apartment only if permitted by the landlord.