How to Evict a Tenant (Process)
A landlord can evict a tenant and recover possession of a rented property by filing an Unlawful Detainer action with the district court. Generally, this process will involve the landlord giving written notice to the tenant informing them of the reason for the eviction and whether or not the situation can be remedied. Other circumstances will permit the landlord to file the eviction without notice given to the tenant. If the tenant does not comply by vacating or otherwise satisfying the notice terms, the landlord can seek judgment by filing the Unlawful Detainer.
Step 1 – Type of Tenancy
The landlord should begin by considering whether the tenancy is “fixed-term” or “at-will.” A fixed-term tenancy means the rental contract states a specific date when the lease expires. An at-will tenancy is one without an established expiration date (usually a month-to-month agreement).
Step 2 – Notice of Eviction
Next, the landlord must determine whether or not a written eviction notice must be served to the tenant. This requirement will vary based on the reason for the eviction and the type of tenancy.
Evict for Non-Payment of Rent
If the tenant has a fixed-term rental agreement, the landlord is not required to provide them with written notice. The landlord can file an Unlawful Detainer with the district court immediately after rent is late unless the terms of the lease state otherwise. However, if the landlord should still desire to notify the tenant of an impending eviction for late rent, they can serve the individual with a Notice to Pay or Quit.
If the tenancy is at-will, the landlord will need to provide the tenant with fourteen (14) days notice to either pay rent or vacate the premises (use the 14-Day Notice to Pay or Quit).
Note: At any point before the landlord reclaims possession of the rented property, the tenant can restore their tenancy by paying the total sum due including interest, filing fees, attorney’s fees of not more than $5, and by satisfying all other lease terms.
Evict for Non-Compliance with Lease Terms
A tenant who violates the terms of their lease or rental agreement can be evicted without notice. As soon as the tenant is non-compliant, the landlord can arrange for eviction by filing an Unlawful Detainer with the district court. That being said, the landlord may find it beneficial to notify the tenant of the lawsuit by providing them with a written Notice to Comply or Quit, though by law this is not required.
Evict for Illegal Activites
A landlord may file an eviction action against a tenant if they commit illegal acts on the premises of the rented property. As stated in § 504B.171 of the Minnesota Statutes, illegal actions include prostitution, gang activity, unlawful use of a controlled substance, possession or unlawful use of a firearm, and permitting stolen property on the premises.
If the tenant commits any of the aforementioned illegal actions, the landlord can terminate the rental contract without notice and immediately after that file an Unlawful Detainer action in court. If law enforcement seizes unlawful contraband or drugs valued above $100, the landlord will be notified of such information and be required to file an Unlawful Detainer within fifteen (15) days. If the landlord fails to file an Unlawful Detainer and receives a second notification involving the same tenant, the landlord is liable to forfeit their property.
General Lease Termination (Without Cause)
The only circumstance in which a landlord is permitted to terminate a lease or rental agreement without cause is when the tenancy is at-will. In these cases, the landlord can cancel the contract by giving the tenant a written Notice to Quit. The notice period must be as long as the interval between the periodic rental date or three (3) months, whichever is shorter.
Step 3 – Notify the Tenant
Once the notice is selected, the landlord can deliver it to the tenant (if required). Usually, this can be accomplished by personally providing the letter to the individual at their place of residence. If personal delivery is not possible, the landlord can send the notice to the address by certified mail and post a copy on a conspicuous location of the dwelling.
Note: Service method requirements may vary between counties. The landlord should contact a court administrator to determine the service methods for their county.
Step 4 – File Complaint
If the tenant does not comply by paying rent, correcting their violations, or vacating, the landlord may proceed by filing an Eviction Complaint (a.k.a “Unlawful Detainer”) with the district court.
The landlord must print additional copies of the Eviction Complaint for each defendant. If there are more than two (2) tenants, an Additional Litigants form must also be included. These documents, along with a copy of the lease and the written notice (if applicable), must be filed at a local district court or submitted electronically. A filing fee will be required (see district court fees). If the landlord is unable to pay the fee, an exemption can be requested by filing a Fee Waiver.
Step 5 – Serve Summons and Eviction Complaint
A court hearing will be issued after the complaint has been filed. This date will be between seven (7) and fourteen (14) later. An expedited hearing time of five (5) to seven (7) days can be requested if there is an immediate threat to the safety of the residents, property owner, or the property itself.
The court administrator will provide the landlord with a Summons (a report of the eviction details). A copy of the Summons and Eviction Complaint must be served to each tenant by any person aged eighteen (18) or older who is not a party to the eviction. The server can hand-deliver the documents to the tenant or another responsible resident of the premises.
If the above service options are not possible, the server may be able to post the documents on a conspicuous location of the property and send them to the address by mail (more information available here). This service method is only permitted after the server attempts to deliver the documents at least two (2) times on separate days with one (1) or more of the delivery attempts made between the times of 6:00 and 10:00 p.m.
Note: Service of the Summons and Eviction Complaint must be accomplished at least seven (7) days before the trial date. Service cannot take place on legal holidays.
Step 6 – Affidavit of Service
After serving the Summons and Eviction Complaint, the server will need to fill out an Affidavit of Service for each tenant being evicted. The following Affidavits are available: Affidavit of Personal Service, Affidavit of Service by Mail, Affidavit of Service by Posting, Affidavit of Not Found, Affidavit of Plaintiff (use only if the landlord believes the tenant is no longer in Minnesota). The landlord must file the Affidavits with the court at least three (3) weekdays before the trial.
Step 7 – Trial Date
The landlord or an authorized representative must appear in court on the date indicated on the Summons. At this time, they must present their witnesses (if any) and all supporting evidence. Certain cases can be settled in a single hearing, though a separate trial may be held if necessary. If a judgment is awarded in the landlord’s favor, they can request a Writ of Recovery of Premises and Order to Vacate from a clerk of the court (a fee will be required).
Step 8 – Reclaim Property
If the tenant fails to vacate the premises, the landlord can take the Writ of Recovery to the sheriff’s department and request that the document be served to the tenant. The tenant will then have twenty-four (24) hours to vacate or else be forced out by the sheriff. The landlord must store any personal belongings left behind by the tenant. The tenant can reclaim their property from the landlord if they pay the storage fees and other expenses.