A complaint must be filed with the housing court to initiate formal eviction proceedings. A landlord cannot just change the locks or make you leave the property without a judge's order. Minn. Stat. § 504B.281. Usually a judge will hear the case two weeks after the formal complaint is filed. Notice of that hearing date, time, and place must be provided to the person being evicted (called "service of process") at least 7 days before the court date. Minn. Stat. § 504B.331.
At the first eviction court hearing, sometimes called the "initial appearance," the judge (or "referee," if the county hires an attorney to act as a hearing officer in housing court) tries to determine if the case can be decided immediately or if a trial is needed. If a trial is needed, the judge may set another date in the future or proceed immediately. Minn. Stat. § 504B.335.
The landlord holds the burden of proof at eviction trial. This rule means that the landlord needs to demonstrate that he or she is entitled to take back possession of the property. Testimony, photographs, and documentation records may be used as proof.
HousingLink outlines common defenses by tenants, including:
The judge (or "referee") will "issue a Writ of Recovery" if eviction is being ordered. That "writ" is the document later used to force someone from the property. A common issue is whether a writ should be issued immediately, or "stayed" for an additional period of time. The writ can be stayed up to seven days upon a showing that the occupant would face a "substantial hardship" to immediately move. Minn. Stat. § 504B.345. This is commonly granted upon a request by the occupant and explanation of the hardship.
"The court shall identify a writ of recovery of premises and order to vacate property that is issued pursuant to an eviction action under section 504B.171, or on the basis that the tenant is causing a nuisance or seriously endangers the safety of other residents, their property, or the landlord's property and clearly note on the order to vacate that it is a priority order. Notice that it is a priority order must be made in a manner that is obvious to an officer who must execute the order under section 504B.365." Minn. Stat. § 504B.361 (subd. 2)
After the writ is issued, the person requesting eviction must pay the sheriff to go out any post the writ upon the property (usually the front door). As the sheriff usually has plenty of other matters ongoing as well, it may be a few days to a few weeks before the sheriff is able to formally post the writ. Upon posting of the writ on the door by the sheriff, the occupant legally has 24 hours to vacate the property.
"The officer who holds the order to vacate shall execute it by demanding that the defendant, if found in the county, any adult member of the defendant's family who is occupying the premises, or any other person in charge, relinquish possession and leave, taking family and all personal property from the premises within 24 hours." Minn. Stat. § 504B.365 (subd. 1)
After the 24 hour period has passed, the person seeking eviction will need to check to see if the occupants have voluntarily vacated. If they have not, then the person seeking eviction must hire the sheriff to again come out to the property to remove all people from the property. With the sheriff's already busy schedule, this can take days to weeks to accomplish. Often the sheriff asks the eviction attorney to send a letter in advance of a "lockout" to the occupants informing them of the date and time of the anticipated lock-out to reduce any surprise on the date that people are physically forced from the property and locks are changed.
personal property move-out
After the lockout occurs, the personal property remaining is generally considered to be "abandoned," but still protected under state law for 28 days. Minn. Stat. § 504B.271.
The person evicting "may take possession of the tenant's personal property remaining on the premises, and shall store and care for the property."
The person who was evicted can sue the person requesting eviction if that person "fails to allow the tenant to retake possession of the property within 24 hours after written demand." In practice, this means that the person evicted can make an email request upon the eviction attorney and get access to take back the personal property.
The person evicting "has a claim against the tenant for reasonable costs and expenses incurred in removing the tenant's property and in storing and caring for the property." Therefore, it is most common that a person evicting retains the personal property without moving it, to avoid those additional costs.
After 28 days the person evicting may "sell or otherwise dispose" of the person property (upon "reasonable" notice to the prior occupant). Typically, after 28 pass after lock-out, the personal property will be trashed in a dumpster if unclaimed.
HUD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued and order to halt all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 (Billing Code: 4163-18-P).
Emergency executive orders issued by Governor Tim Walz, during the current COVID-19 crisis place a temporary ban on evictions through at least January 31, 2021 by the extension of the Emergency Executive Order 20-100: "The ability of property owners, mortgage holders, or other persons entitled to recover residential premises to file an eviction action on the grounds that a residential tenant remains in the property after a notice of termination of lease, after a notice of nonrenewal of a lease, after a material violation of a lease, after the termination of the redemption period for a residential foreclosure, or after nonpayment of rent, is suspended." Executive order 20-79 has also modified eviction protections to allow evictions under additional limited circumstances. "It remains in effect until the peacetime emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 is terminated or until it is rescinded by proper authority."
The Cares Act also provides that "Tenants in specified federally backed housing (e.g., federally subsidized housing, rural voucher-program housing, and housing financed through federally backed mortgages) may not be evicted for 120 days beginning on the date of enactment of this Act [March 27, 2020]. A lessor that serves an eviction notice after this time period must provide the tenant with 30 days to vacate. Furthermore, during the 120-day moratorium, tenants may not be charged late fees, penalties, or other charges for nonpayment of rent." This protects some tenants from both eviction AND late fees through July 27, 2020.
Landlord and Tenant Issues
Minnesota Judicial Branch
Chapter 504B. Landlord and Tenant
2018 Minnesota Statutes
Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities
The Office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
Fact Sheet for Evictions
Education for Justice
Tenants' Rights in Minnesota
Education for Justice
Minnesota Eviction Process