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Q My mother recently passed away unexpectedly. We were informed by the apartment managers that they would change the locks and we would not be able to get into her apartment. Is this legal?

Also, are we liable to pay rent now that she is gone? I had wanted to pay through February to give us time to deal with the work that needed to be done.

A Minnesota Statute 504B.265 states that the estate of a tenant with a written lease may terminate that lease on two month's notice.

If your mother had a written lease, then her estate is responsible for two months' rent. If it was a month-to-month lease, then you only need to pay for 30 days after you give the landlord a written 30-day notice.

When you give the landlord a written notice terminating the lease, ask for a copy of the most current lease. That will let you know the extent of the estate's responsibility.

Sometimes, when a parent dies, some of the kids go and raid the house. It is perfectly reasonable for the landlord to take the position that they don't want to get caught in the middle of such a situation.

You can obtain an Affidavit for Collection of Property, which is governed by Minnesota Statute 524.3-1201, and present that to the landlord. Get the form from a lawyer, a legal stationer, or maybe from the self-help center at the courthouse where you live.

Once the landlord receives the completed affidavit, they should let you in. If they refuse, you should speak with a lawyer. You have the right to file a lock-out action on your own in Housing Court, but there may be issues as to whether you have the legal right to represent the estate, and it might be necessary to hire a lawyer.

How to get rent certificate

Q My landlord refuses to provide me with a certificate of rent paid. Do you have any advice? Should I report him to someone?

A My advice is to tell the landlord that you can get a copy from the Department of Revenue, after the department looks into this situation, or the landlord can provide you with a CRP now.

If the landlord still won't give you a CRP, you can contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue, or have a completed form sent to you by the Revenue Department.

You can obtain a blank form in the mail by contacting Minnesota Revenue at 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094, or let them know the property address and they will investigate and make sure that you obtain a completed form.

The Department of Revenue can also be reached by writing to Minnesota Revenue, Mail Station 5510, St. Paul, MN 55146-5510.

You should first speak with your landlord, though, and give him the opportunity to provide you with a CRP.

Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein. If you have questions concerning renting, you can e-mail her at kklein@kleinpa.com, post your questions at www.startribune.com/kellyklein or write in care of Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488.