Q: My roommate owns the house I live in. I do not have a written lease, but I pay the owner rent to live in his house. In late September, he gave me a 30-day written notice to vacate. Isn’t he required to let me stay through the end of October, since the rental period is from the first of the month to the end?
If I am unable or unwilling to leave, is the owner required to take me to court before he can remove me or my personal belongings? Can you provide me with the statute numbers so I can show my landlord?
A: In Minnesota, a lease can be written or oral. In this situation, since you are not named on the lease but you are paying rent monthly, you are considered to be on a month-to-month lease. A month-to-month lease can continue indefinitely unless the landlord or tenant terminates the lease properly. A landlord or owner may end a lease, with proper notice, for any reason except for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons.
If the landlord wants to end your month-to-month lease, Minnesota law requires him to give written notice to vacate one full rental period before the end date. This means, in a month-to-month tenancy, that when your landlord gives you a 30-day notice to terminate the lease, the date to vacate must be for the end of the month, since your rental period runs from the start of the month to the end of the month. The 30-day notice to end a month-to-month lease must also be received during the previous month, such as September in your situation. For example, notice for Oct. 31 would have to be given in writing and received by Sept. 30 at the latest. Landlords and tenants sometimes think that only a 30-day notice to vacate is required in a month-to-month lease, but the requirement is a full rental period.
In this case, your landlord gave you proper written notice during the month of September for you to vacate Oct. 31, not for you to vacate 30 days from the date in September on which the notice was given. Since your notice to vacate came in September, then your lease does not terminate until one full rental period, which would fall on Oct. 31. Minnesota Statute 504B.135 is the law you need to provide to your landlord regarding your month-to-month lease, which may also be called a tenancy at will or periodic lease.
If you are unable or unwilling to leave, the owner may then be forced to file an eviction action against you for remaining after you’ve been given a proper notice to vacate. Your landlord cannot remove you or your belongings without filing an eviction action. However, you should not wait to move out, because an eviction action will negatively affect your ability to rent in the future. Minnesota statutes 504B.281 through 504B.371 are the law regarding evictions. If you were not able to move out by Oct. 31, then you need to discuss the situation with your landlord and try to work out a mutual agreement. Remember to get any agreement in writing and signed by both parties.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.