Q: I rent out a room in my Twin Cities home, where I’m also living. Since I’ve been working from home during the pandemic, my small space has felt constricting, and I want to regain the room that I’m renting out. Does the governor’s eviction moratorium apply to people who are renting out space in their own home? I have searched online for an answer to this question but have not found one.
The tenant has a month-to-month lease, and she is not behind on the rent.
A: The Minnesota eviction moratorium is still in effect until the emergency declared by Gov. Walz is over, but now includes some exceptions that allow landlords to evict a tenant for certain lease violations, such as committing illegal activity, endangering the safety of others or significantly damaging property. A landlord also can evict a tenant if the property manager or their family needs to move into the place. These are narrow exceptions, and evictions for nonpayment of rent, which is the most common reason for eviction, are still banned. Along with our state law, there is also a federal ban on evictions that runs through Dec. 31, 2020, for any tenant who has lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic and has fallen behind on rent. The state and federal laws do apply to landlords renting out rooms in their homes.
Your rental situation may not involve a court-ordered eviction. You are just trying to end your tenant’s month-to-month lease so that you can have your home to yourself. Your tenant’s lease will end once you give her a one-month written notice to terminate the lease. Either the landlord or tenant can terminate a month-to-month lease for any reason, or no reason, as long as it’s not a discriminatory reason, such as race, religion, disability or sexual orientation. You should provide your tenant with a typed or handwritten signed notice to terminate the lease in one full month. For example, if you give the tenant written notice to end the lease Dec. 31, 2020, then you need to give her the notice by Nov. 30, 2020. Since it needs to be one full month’s notice, you cannot give your tenant the notice during the same month that you want her to move out.
If your tenant agrees to move, then you need not apply for an eviction. However, if your tenant refuses to move, then you may need to go to the housing court in the county where you live and file with the court. Since you are trying to reclaim space for your own needs pursuant to a properly terminated lease, as opposed to trying to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, the court may allow the eviction to proceed.
Q: I rent out the upper unit of my duplex and live in the lower level. I also share common areas with my tenant and her guests. I have told my tenant that I do not want her friend to come into this building accompanied by her boyfriend who is a felon, a gang member and recently released from prison. He is still involved in street life. My tenant feels that she has the right to have any visitor she chooses. Do I have any say about this?
A: Typically, tenants are allowed to have whoever they want in their rental homes, unless that visitor is committing a crime on the property or is a danger to other residents living there. Even though your tenant’s visitors include someone who is a known felon and recently released from prison, that doesn’t give you the right to ban him from visiting your tenant. However, if your tenant’s visitor is a gang member and still involved in street life, that is a different issue because it now concerns you and your tenant’s safety. Since you’ve voiced your concerns, and your tenant isn’t willing to stop her friend’s boyfriend from coming to your duplex, you should give her notice to terminate the lease once it ends. You didn’t mention if she was on a month-to-month lease or how much time is left on her lease. If you’re concerned for your safety, you should consider not renewing her lease. You don’t have to give a reason for not renewing her lease; it just can’t be for discriminatory reasons such as her skin color, disability, race, religion or any other protected class. If there are several months left on your tenant’s lease, but there is a threat of imminent danger, you can terminate your tenant’s lease immediately.
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.