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Tim is teaching a FREE seminar/CLE on evictions and landlord-tenant law. The seminar is called "What Every Landlord Needs to Know," and and will be held on Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 9 AM at Tim's office, 2140-4th Ave., Anoka, MN 55303

From the course description:

In this FREE seminar, we will cover the legal aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, including how to handle evictions, security deposits, and tenant property remaining in the premises after the tenant moves out.  This seminar is geared for landlords, property managers, and attorneys who represent them.

ATTORNEYS: One standard CLE credit has been applied for.

Space is limited, so advance registration is required. To register, please visit:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-every-landlord-needs-to-know-about-evictions-security-deposits-abandoned-tenant-property-and-tickets-29863493513

 
 
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I am often asked what a landlord should do is a tenant dies.  If a tenant dies and was not married, I generally recommend that a landlord bring an eviction action against that tenant by name, and against the estate of that tenant, if only to get the rental unit back. That way, the landlord will have the legal right to rent the unit again and dispose of any personal property remaining there.

In the event of the death of a tenant, the landlord has three primary concerns: what happens to the lease, dealing with the tenant's personal property, and dealing with the security deposit. I will now address each of these concerns in turn.

Lease

What happens to the lease upon the death of a tenant is governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .265. Basically, the lease continues in force, until the landlord or the tenant (or the tenant's estate) provide notice that the lease has terminated.

The statute provides that either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease by providing written notice at least 60 days in advance. In other words, the notice must be given at least two full rental periods in advance. For example, notice given sometime in the month of September actually terminates the lease as of the end of November, and the tenant's estate is on the hook for rent from the date of the notice through the end of the lease.

However, the tenant's estate remains liable for unpaid rent and other amounts due and owing under the lease through the date of the lease termination. The landlord still has to deal with the deceased tenant's personal property as well as the security deposit, but can sue the tenant's estate in conciliation court for the amounts due and owing under the lease, including unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, and damages to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Personal Property Belonging to the Deceased Tenant

The landlord has the duty under Minn. Stat. 504B.271 to secure the tenant's property. This can be most easily accomplished by either changing the locks, if the property is going to be stored in the unit, or moving the property to a no other secured location on site, such as a lockable garage.  Once it becomes apparent to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord has to secure it, as described above. The landlord has to store the property for 28 days if the property is to be stored on site.

After the property is secured, the landlord has to conduct an inventory of the property. The easiest way to do the inventory is to take digital photographs or a video of the property, accompanied by a list describing the specific items. Big-ticket items, such as a television, should be listed separately, but general categories are okay for other items, such as furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.

The landlord has to mail a copy of the inventory to the tenant (or the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last known address), which is probably the apartment. I recommend posting a sign on the door indicating that property appears to be abandoned to the landlord, the landlord has secured the tenant's personal property and that the landlord may be contacted to set up an appointment to provide access.

The landlord should only provide access to the personal property of a deceased tenant to someone who is named as a personal representative in the tenant's will.   If the tenant died intestate – that is, without a will – I would be very cautious about providing access to the property to a person who is not named or has been appointed as a personal representative. After all – the landlord does not want to be liable to the tenant's estate for improperly disposing of the tenant's personal property.

For more information on dealing with a tenant's personal property, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/what-should-a-landlord-do-with-personal-property-that-a-tenant-leaves-behind-when-the-tenant-moves-out.html

Security Deposit

Security deposits in Minnesota are governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .178. The landlord has to return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days after termination of the tenancy, with interest, less the amount of damages to the landlord beyond ordinary wear and tear.  When a tenant dies, the security deposit becomes the property of the tenant's estate. The landlord should return any deposit remaining, with appropriate interest, to either the named or appointed personal representative or to the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last-known address, which is probably the rental unit.

For more information on dealing with the security deposit, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/how-should-a-landlord-handle-a-tenants-security-deposit-after-the-tenant-moves-out.html

The death of a tenant presents a complicated situation to the landlord, and every landlord-tenant situation is unique. For that reason, I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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I am often asked whether a person needs a trust. The short answer is that most people do not need a trust, but there are certain situations where a trust is a good idea. In other words, you probably do not need a trust unless there is a good reason for you to have a trust.

A few definitions are in order. There are two kinds of trusts: a living trust, which is created during the lifetime of the settlor (the person who creates the trust) through a separate trust document and a testamentary or after-death trust, which is created through the testator's Will.

After the trust is created, the settlor funds the trust by transferring assets and property from the settlor to the trust.  The person who manages the trust is called the trustee. The trustee is responsible for administering the property in the trust in accordance with the settlor's wishes. A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. In other words, the settlor can revoke or cancel the trust during the settlor's lifetime. If the settlor revokes the trust, the property in the trust goes back to the settlor.

That said, a trust is not an appropriate estate planning vehicle for most people. Unless you have excessive wealth, unique property (I am thinking of Prince's music – both released and unreleased), or a special situation, I trust is probably not appropriate for you and will needlessly complicate your estate plan. However, a trust may be appropriate if you have minor children, have minor or adult children with diminished capacity who cannot handle their own financial affairs, have a lot of property that you want to give to charity, need to reduce your taxable estate, or want to fund your estate with life insurance.

There are other reasons to have a trust, and the best way to determine if a trust is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. However, for most people, an estate plan consisting of a will, a health care directive, and a power of attorney is more appropriate than a trust.

The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss your specific situation. Everybody who calls gets a free 5 minute mini telephone consultation. An in person meeting is $250, and that amount is credited to your account when you retained me to represent you in drafting your Will, healthcare advance directive, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in the state and federal courts of Minnesota, and the advice that he gives is applicable to that jurisdiction only. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.













 
 
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I am often asked to explain the difference between a Will and an estate plan. The short answer is that a Will determines what happens to your property after you die, and can be an important part of an estate plan. An estate plan, by contrast, includes a Will, and also a healthcare advance directive and a power of attorney, and may include a trust as well. The healthcare advance directive and power of attorney both give somebody else the authority to make health care or financial decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated.

I generally recommend that all persons have a Will, a healthcare advance directive (sometimes called a "living will"), and a power of attorney. A trust is sometimes appropriate as well, and a trust can be an important part of estate planning. If you own a small business, you may need to consider business succession planning issues as well, to pass the business onto the next generation.

A Will is a very powerful document that allows you to name a personal representative, a guardian for your children, and indicate what you would like to have happen with your property after you die. In addition to planning for what happens to your property after your death, I think that it is also important to appoint someone through a power of attorney and healthcare advance directive to make health care – related decisions for you and manage your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated.

The best way to determine what is right for you is to meet with an estate planning attorney. To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss your specific situation. Everybody who calls gets a free 5 minute mini telephone consultation. An in person meeting is $250, and that amount is credited to your account when you retained me to represent you in drafting your Will, healthcare advance directive, power of attorney, and other estate planning documents.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in the state and federal courts of Minnesota, and the advice that he gives is applicable to that jurisdiction only. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.


 
 
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I am frequently asked whether a person should have a Will. The short answer is that yes, most people need a Will, especially if the testator (the person making the will) has significant assets and property, and wants to control how his or her property is disputed after death.

If you die intestate, and do not have a Will, the property that you own at the time of your death will pass on to your heirs according to the laws of the state of Minnesota. You may not be happy with the results.

There are many reasons for you to have a Will, but the main reason – at least for me – is control. You get to control who is going to be your personal representative, trustee (if a trust is necessary), guardian for your children, etc. After all, what happens to your property after you die should be your choice – not the choice of the legislature (in its infinite wisdom). Rather, your property should be distributed according to your wishes, and what you want to happen should happen.

With a Will, you can clearly tell your family what you want to happen to your personal property, and minimize confusion in doubt about what should happen. Saying what you want to happen in advance of your death will make it a lot easier for those who come after you, and go a long way towards keeping peace in your family. If you tell your children who should get grandma's chifferobe, your children will not spend time, energy, and money fighting about it.

A Will may also be appropriate if you have unique assets, such as antiques, collections, heirlooms, or a family business, or a unique personal situation, such as a minor child or incapacitated or beneficiaries who have not yet reached the age of majority. With a Will, you can include persons who would not otherwise be heirs, such as stepchildren, friends, and charities, and exclude persons who are hairs under the law and entitled to receive a portion of your estate.

Your needs and whether a Will is right for you depends on your specific situation. You should seek the advice of an attorney before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite you to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss  your unique situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.











 
 
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I am often asked if a landlord should change the locks, lock the tenant out, or otherwise prevent the tenant from gaining access to the rental unit. The short answer is no, unless the tenant has already moved out, returned the keys, and has abandoned personal property.

Locking a tenant out or otherwise preventing the tenant from gaining access to the rental property carries both criminal and civil liability for the landlord.  On the criminal side, a landlord who locks the tenant out is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces a potential sentence of up to 90 days in jail. I do not know of a single landlord who would want to do jail time because of a tenant.

On the civil side, the landlord could be sued for triple damages (or $500, whatever is greater) and reasonable attorneys fees.  In other words, a landlord who locks the tenant out may have to pay for that tenant's hotel bill, if the tenant has to stay in a hotel because the landlord cut off the tenants access to the rental property.

If the tenant has moved out and abandoned personal property in the rental unit, then the landlord has a responsibility to secure that property under Minnesota law. In that case, the landlord might be able to change the locks, as a way of securing the personal property abandoned by the tenant.

However, if there is any doubt that the tenant has moved out and abandoned the property, then I would recommend that the landlord bring an eviction action against the tenant to recover the right of possession to the rental unit. Unless the tenant has relinquished possession by giving the keys to the landlord, the safest course of action would be to evict the tenant to recover the right of possession.

Every landlord – tenant situation is unique, and I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I have represented many landlords in conciliation court, but  typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.










 
 
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I am often asked whether a landlord should sue a former tenant in conciliation court to recover unpaid rent and other amounts due and owing under the lease. Typically, a tenant will be evicted, abandon the lease, or otherwise move out, but owe a lot of money to the landlord for unpaid rent and damages to the property beyond ordinary wear and tear.  The short answer is yes, for the following reasons.

A landlord stands to receive some if not all of the money the landlord is owed if they get a judgment against a former tenant. After all, a judgment that you get in conciliation court will (if you transfer or transcribe the judgment from conciliation court to District Court) show up on the tenants credit report and interfere with the tenants ability to get financing. A judgment is good for 10 years and can be renewed if it is not paid up.

I had one client who was a landlord who always sued tenants in conciliation court, transferred the judgments to District Court, and then got a call about five or six years later from the former tenants – because they could not get a mortgage with the landlord's judgment on their record.

Conciliation court is – in most cases – a lot faster and cheaper than bringing a lawsuit against a former tenant in District Court. The filing fee is a lot less and the landlord does not necessarily have to follow the strict rules of evidence and rules of civil procedure in effect in District Court. Depending on the county you are in, a hearing in conciliation court will be scheduled about three – four months from the date that you file a statement of claim and summons – or complaint – in conciliation court. The only way that District Court would be faster is if the defendant did not respond to your complaint and you proceeded by way of default.

The jurisdictional limit – or the most money that you can sue somebody for – in conciliation court is $15,000. Unless the tenant has done extraordinary damage to the property, that amount should be more than enough to cover the amounts of unpaid rent and other damages.

For all of these reasons, I think that bringing a claim in conciliation court against a former tenant is a viable option for all landlords. If you have a claim against a former tenant that exceeds $15,000, you should probably talk to an attorney to decide if conciliation court or District Court is the better way for you to proceed.

Every landlord – tenant situation is unique, and I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I have represented many landlords in conciliation court, but  typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.


 
 
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Tim is teaching a free seminar called "What Every Landlord Needs to Know about Evictions, Security Deposits, Abandon Tenant Property, and Landlord – Tenant Law." The seminar will be held on Friday, March 11, 2016 from noon – 1 PM at Tim's office, 2140th Avenue, Anoka Minnesota 55303.

In this FREE seminar, we will cover the legal aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, including how to handle evictions, security deposits, and tenant property remaining in the premises after the tenant moves out.  This seminar is geared for landlords, property managers, and attorneys who represent them.  Please call Tim directly at 763-450-9494 if you have any questions about this seminar.

Space is limited, so advance registration is required. To register, please visit
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-every-landlord-needs-to-know-about-evictions-security-deposits-abandoned-tenant-property-and-tickets-22240662420.

ATTORNEYS:One standard CLE credit has been applied for.







 
 
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I am often asked what a landlord should do with personal property that a tenant leaves behind when the tenant either moves out and abandons the lease or is evicted. The short answer depends on whether the sheriff removes the tenant and whether the property is stored on-site or off-site.

The landlord's duties under the law are clear. If a tenant either moves out or abandons the lease and is evicted, the landlord has to inventory the property and store it for 28 days, if the property is stored on-site. The easiest way to do an inventory is to run a camcorder or video recorder over any property that is left behind, but I recommend that a landlord make an itemized list of the items that are left behind and then take a digital photograph of each item.

For the inventory, the landlord does not need to make an exhaustive list, but I recommend that big – ticket items, or items with intrinsic value, be listed separately. For example, if a tenant leaves 5 shirts or houses behind, a couple of pairs of pants, etc., the landlord can lump all those under the general category of "clothing." In other words, the landlord does not need to take a separate picture of each item of clothing, but can take one picture of all the clothing to gather.  However, for televisions, computers, electronics in general, and other big-ticket items, I recommend that the landlord list each item separately, and take a separate photograph of it, if only to be safe.


If the property is stored on site, the landlord has to complete such an inventory and, under Minn. Stat. 504B .271,

"make reasonable efforts to notify the tenant of the sale at least 14 days prior to the sale, by personal service in writing or sending written notification of the sale by first class and certified mail to the tenant's last known address or usual place of abode, if known by the landlord, and by posting notice of the sale in a conspicuous place on the premises at least two weeks prior to the sale."

In other words, at least 14 days before a sale, the landlord has to post notice of the sale "in a conspicuous place" and mail the same notice by regular and certified US mail to the tenants last known address, which is probably going to be the property. If the landlord knows the tenant's telephone number or email address, I would recommend sending notice of the sale to the tenant by email, by text message, or by a telephone call.

If the sheriff removes the tenant and the property is going to be stored off-site, in a different location other than the rental premises, then the landlord is required to store the property for 60 days. For this reason, I generally recommend that a landlord store property left behind by a former tenant on-site, in a garage or storage locker. I generally do not recommend that a landlord store property off-site, although there are certainly reasons to do so.

There are multiple other requirements as well, which are enumerated in Minn. Stat. 504B.365, subd. 3. I strongly recommend that landlords review this statute in the event that a tenant is removed from the property by the sheriff.


Every landlord – tenant situation is unique, and I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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Tim is teaching a seminar on Bankruptcy Basics: What Everybody Needs to Know about Bankruptcy. The seminar will be held on Friday, January 29, 2016 from noon to 1 PM at Tim's office, 2140 – 4th Avenue North, Anoka Minnesota 55303. This seminar is intended for consumer and small business debtors, as well as attorneys who do not practice in the area of bankruptcy.

Space is limited, so preregistration is required. For more information and to register, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bankruptcy-basics-everything-you-need-to-know-about-bankruptcy-tickets-20485575909.

ATTORNEYS: This seminar has been approved for one standard CLE credit. The event code is 214745.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents consumer and small business debtors in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. Please note that only individual debtors can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief, not businesses.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today and find out whether declaring bankruptcy is the right option for you!

DISCLAIMER: Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. is a debt-relief agency, and Timothy H. Baland, Esq. is a debt-relief agent.  We help people like you to obtain bankruptcy relief.

WARNING: The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.