Evictions, Security Deposits, Abandoned Tenant Property, and Landlord-Tenant Law
I primarily represent landlords in the eviction process and throughout the tenant-landlord relationship. If you have a question about evictions, security deposits, abandoned tenant property, or landlord-tenant law, or succession and estate planning for landlords, please call me at (763) 450-9494 or fill out the contact form if you would like to talk about your situation. I typically will respond by e-mail, but please provide your telephone number if you'd like me to call, and let me know when would be a good time to call.
Also, check out my blog for articles on evictions, security deposits, abandoned tenant property, business and succession planning, and landlord-tenant law. Here is the link:
When Should a Landlord Bring an Eviction Action?
I generally recommend that a landlord bring an eviction action as soon as a tenant falls behind in rent. If the landlord lets two or more months go by without demanding that the tenant pay rent, the tenant will believe they can stay in the property without having to pay rent, lease or no lease. Bringing an eviction action shows the tenant that the landlord is serious about payment of rent, and that the tenant has to pay rent in order to stay in the property.
After the landlord has successfully evicted the tenant, I recommend that the landlord sue the tenant in conciliation court for the unpaid rent and any other amounts due and owing under the lease in order to get a judgment against the tenant, and transfer that judgment from conciliation court to district court.. Although the landlord cannot expect to get any money that day, that week, that month, or even that year, the tenant will eventually want to buy a house, but will be unable to qualify for a mortgage with the landlord's judgment on their record
Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant for Illegal Activities (such as drug use or possession, theft, and assault)?
Can a landlord evict a tenant for illegal activities? For example, what can the landlord do if the tenant uses, sells, possesses, or manufactures illegal drugs in the rental unit? What if the tenant assaults someone, such as another tenant or guest, in the rental unit? Can the landlord evict a tenant who stores stolen property on the premises?
The short answer is yes, the landlord can bring an eviction action, but only if there is proof that the tenant has engaged in certain illegal activities. In Minnesota, Minn. Stat. 504B.171, subd. 1 says that neither the landlord or tenant will:
(i) unlawfully allow controlled substances in [the rental] premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises;
(ii) allow prostitution or prostitution-related activity as defined in section 617.80, subdivision 4, to occur on the premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises;
(iii) allow the unlawful use or possession of a firearm in violation of section 609.66, subdivision 1a, 609.67, or 624.713, on the premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises; or
(iv) allow stolen property or property obtained by robbery in those premises or in the common area and curtilage of the premises; and
(2) the common area and curtilage of the premises will not be used by either the landlord or licensor or the tenant or licensee or others acting under the control of either to manufacture, sell, give away, barter, deliver, exchange, distribute, purchase, or possess a controlled substance in violation of any criminal provision of chapter 152.
Minn. Stat. § 504B.171, subd. 1, emphasis added.
In other words, the activities in bold print are prohibited, and grounds for eviction. Here is a short list of prohibited activities:
1. controlled substances
2. prostitution or prostitution-related activity
3. unlawful use or possession of a firearm
4. possession of stolen property
These are the only illegal activities that are prohibited by statute, so a tenant cannot be evicted under this statute for engaging in an a crime not on this list. However, many leases and tenant rules prohibit other conduct. If a tenant's conduct violates the terms of the lease or rules, that violation is grounds for eviction as well. For example, if a lease prohibits "assaultive behavior," and the tenant assaults another tenant or guest, that might be grounds for eviction.
I say might because the landlord must prove that the prohibited conduct occurred. In a civil action such as an eviction, the landlord must prove that prohibited conduct occurred by a preponderance of the evidence. That means that the landlord must prove that is more likely than not that the prohibited conduct occurred.
What is sufficient proof? A conviction, either resulting from a guilty plea or trial, will almost certainly be sufficient because the underlying facts will either be admitted or proven beyond a reasonable doubt.. If a tenant is charged with a crime, that may be sufficient because a prosecutor found probable cause to believe that the tenant had committed a crime. Police reports and complaints for neighbors are good, but may not be sufficient to prove prohibited conduct in and of themselves.
If a landlord suspects that a tenant is engaged in illegal activity, or receives complaints from neighbors, I would recommend calling the police and filing a police report. Landlords should encourage neighbors who complain about a tenant's behavior to call 9-1-1 instead of reporting the tenant to the landlord later, after the fact. If neighbors call the police immediately, the police may catch the tenant doing something illegal.
Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents both landlords and tenants in eviction actions, and in other litigation related to the landlord-tenant legal relationship. Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today!