Minnesota Landlord Rights: Dealing with Renters in MN

Minnesota landlords have rights against renters (a.k.a. tenants) who violate their lease, don’t pay rent, damage the property, or otherwise break Minnesota landlord-tenant law.

This article covers a number of Minnesota landlord rights issues:

A free service is available for Minnesota tenants with questions about their right against landlords. But Minnesota landlords often have questions about their rights. This article discusses Minnesota landlord’s rights when dealing with problem renters.

Minnesota Month-to-Month Lease a.k.a. Tenancy at Will

Landlords may allow a tenant (i.e. a renter) to stay in their home after the lease (rental agreement) expires. When this occurs, the landlord and tenant have a month-to-month lease, which is called “Tenancy at Will.” Tenancy at Will is covered under Minnesota Statute section 504B.135:

Minnesota Statute section 504B.135 – Terminating Tenancy at Will

(a) A tenancy at will may be terminated by either party by giving notice in writing. The time of the notice must be at least as long as the interval between the time rent is due or three months, whichever is less.

(b) If a tenant neglects or refuses to pay rent due on a tenancy at will, the landlord may terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant 14 days notice to quit in writing.

As you can see, the statute requires landlords and tenants to give 30 days notice, but if a tenant isn’t paying rent, the landlord may terminate the tenancy by giving only 14 days notice.

Automatic Renewal of Leases is Prohibited in Minnesota

Unfurnished Apartment for Rent by turkeychik

Creative Commons Generic License Attribution Unfurnished Apartment for Rent by turkeychik

Some residential landlords have drafted lease agreements that say the lease will automatically renew for one year if the tenants fail to give them notice that they are ending the lease. Minnesota Statute section 504B.145 expressly prohibits an automatic lease renewal of over two months unless certain statutory procedures are followed:

Minnesota Statute section 504B.145 – Restriction on Automatic Renewals of Leases

Notwithstanding the provisions of any residential lease, in order to enforce any automatic renewal clause of a lease of an original term of two months or more which states, in effect, that the term shall be deemed renewed for a specified additional period of time of two months or more unless the tenant gives notice to the landlord of an intention to quit the premises at the expiration of the term due to expire, the landlord must give notice to the tenant as provided in this section. The notice must be in writing and direct the tenant’s attention to the automatic renewal provision of the lease. The notice must be served personally or mailed by certified mail at least 15 days, but not more than 30 days prior to the time that the tenant is required to furnish notice of an intention to quit.

Minnesota Renters Cannot Use a Security Deposit for Their Last Month’s Rent

Tenants may tell the landlord to use their security deposit to cover their last month’s rent. This obviously undermines the purpose for a security deposit, which is to provide the landlord with some “security” or money in case the tenant leaves the property and the property is damaged. Thus, Minnesota law protects landlords and provides a penalty for tenants who don’t pay their last month’s rent.

Minnesota Statute section 504B.178, Subdivision 8 – Withholding Rent

No tenant may withhold payment of all or any portion of rent for the last payment period of a residential rental agreement, except an oral or written month to month residential rental agreement concerning which neither the tenant nor landlord has served a notice to quit, or for the last month of a contract for deed cancellation period under section 559.21 or a mortgage foreclosure redemption period under chapter 580, 581, or 582, on the grounds that the deposit should serve as payment for the rent. Withholding all or any portion of rent for the last payment period of the residential rental agreement creates a rebuttable presumption that the tenant withheld the last payment on the grounds that the deposit should serve as payment for the rent. Any tenant who remains in violation of this subdivision after written demand and notice of this subdivision shall be liable to the landlord for the following:

(1) a penalty in an amount equal to the portion of the deposit which the landlord is entitled to withhold under subdivision 3 other than to remedy the tenant’s default in the payment of rent; and

(2) interest on the whole deposit as provided in subdivision 2, in addition to the amount of rent withheld by the tenant in violation of this subdivision.

As you can see, this Minnesota statute provides a serious penalty for tenants who fail to pay their last month’s rent. The law says that if a tenant fails to pay the last month’s rent, the law assumes that the tenant intended to have the security deposit used for the last month’s rent. After the landlord sends a written demand for payment, the tenant who fails to pay will be liable for an amount equal to the security deposit, plus interest on the deposit, plus the amount of unpaid rent.

Landlords have 21 Days to Return a Renter’s Security Deposit

Landlords are required by law to either

  1. return a renter’s security deposit or
  2. provide to the renter, in writing, a statement showing the specific reason for the withholding some or all of the deposit.

The landlord must mail this statement first-class within three weeks after the tenancy ends, as long as the renter provides a forwarding address. See Minnesota Statutes section 504B.178 subdivision 3:

Every landlord shall: within 3 weeks after termination of the tenancy . . . and after receipt of the tenant’s mailing address or delivery instructions, return the deposit to the tenant, with interest thereon as provided in subdivision 2, or furnish to the tenant a written statement showing the specific reason for the withholding of the deposit or any portion thereof.

So if a renter has not received a security deposit or written explanation within 21 days after the tenancy ended, plus a few days for mailing, then the renter should consider taking legal action to get

  1. the security deposit,
  2. a penalty equal to the security deposit, and potentially
  3. a $200 bad faith penalty, all of which a renter is entitled under Minnesota law.

See Minnesota Statutes section 504B.178 subdivision 4.

A landlord must return the entire security deposit except for an amount reasonably necessary to cover amounts owed under the lease or for damage to the property, excluding ordinary wear and tear. See Minnesota Statutes section 504B.178 subdivision 3(b).

Common Landlord Questions & Attorney Answers

Question: Can I recover attorney’s fees from my tenant?

Answer: As a general rule, you may only recover attorney’s fees in a lawsuit if your lease specifically allows for it (this is one reason it is important to have an attorney draft your lease).

Question: How do I calculate interest?

Answer: Interest on late rent is calculated based on the interest rate in the lease (this is one reason it is important to have an attorney draft your lease). Interest on the security deposit held by the landlord is one percent (1%). Here are the details from Minnesota Statutes section 504B.178 subdivision 2:

Any deposit of money shall not be considered received in a fiduciary capacity within the meaning of section 82.55, subdivision 26, but shall be held by the landlord for the tenant who is party to the agreement and shall bear simple noncompounded interest at the rate of three percent per annum until August 1, 2003, and one percent per annum thereafter, computed from the first day of the next month following the full payment of the deposit to the last day of the month in which the landlord, in good faith, complies with the requirements of subdivision 3 or to the date upon which judgment is entered in any civil action involving the landlord’s liability for the deposit, whichever date is earlier. Any interest amount less than $1 shall be excluded from the provisions of this section.

Question: Does the tenant owe the statute’s penalties for not paying the last month’s rent immediately or only after going to court?

Answer: On this point, the statute is not clear. As a practical matter, it normally does not matter because, after receiving the landlord’s notice, the tenant either (1) pays the last month’s rent so the landlord does not sue or (2) refuses to pay the last month’s rent so the landlord sues for the last month’s rent plus penalties. I would generally recommend that landlords notify the tenants of the penaltiies, but only seek to recover those penalties if they go to court. The reason is this: if a tenant pays the last month’s rent after the landlord gives notice of the statute, the tenant should not be liable for penalties.

Minnesota Landlord Rights Attorney

Our attorneys are experienced in representing landlords and tenants in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the Twin Cities suburbs. They have drafted Minnesota lease agreements, negotiated landlord-tenant disputes, and represented clients in lawsuits involving residential and commercial leases. Our real estate attorneys are available to meet with people facing lease disputes, analyze their lease, and explain their legal rights and options. This can usually be completed in a one hour meeting, which can be done by phone or in our office. Our usual hourly rates apply to this legal work.


Leave a Public Comment

  • Kevin
    October 10, 2016, 7:47 pm

    A neighbor across from my property continually calls police out claiming loud music, suspicious people. She is opposed to their political views.

    Long story short, I was served with a Notice of nuisance. And have to gave a PLAN to fix the issue in 30 days.

    If I evict them that would make Hennepin county and that neighbor happy but feels wrong. Like I’m allowing a bully to get their way.

    Never had to address this before. Any ideas?????

  • Terie
    September 23, 2016, 1:52 pm

    If a tenant was suppose to pay $300 damage deposite, did not pay it(written lease)
    They keep breaking things and plus now not paying rent on time; can I Evict them?
    Please help me. Things constantly keep getting busted & im paying for it! Do have 60 day to give them notice. Im so fed up & tired of it. Thank you. Terie

  • Jim wilson
    July 3, 2016, 1:01 am

    Tenant did not pay last months rent, using security deposit. Left stuff mostly junk in garage. How long before i remove it? I have not heard from tenant and no forwarding address

  • Ramona Romero
    May 2, 2016, 8:01 am

    So we meet up with the landlord signed a lease and paid full deposit said we will be moving in a week or so after the 1st (which would be a month and week wait for us to move in) he calls me 3 days before the first of the month and tells me that he can’t rent to us because he has a bad feeling? Is that legal

  • Josh wettschreck
    March 27, 2016, 2:32 pm

    I am renting out a property that has been foreclosed and our lease is up at the end of the redemption. And there are three people offering me money to leave I don’t know what to do

  • Dusty
    January 16, 2016, 10:16 pm

    In Minnesota what are the guidelines for a tenant that is signed on a lease versus someone who is not on the lease. Do they have the same rights or do the rights go to the tenant on the lease?

  • Debra Smith
    December 25, 2015, 7:47 pm

    I have a month to month lease with 30 notice to move out required. This is an owner occupied home with the tenant renting a bedroom on 2nd floor next to my room. The tenant works from “home” until 3pm at which time he begins to drink large quantities of vodka. He is an alcoholic, being drunk every day. This drinking is done in the dining room. He has now become verbally abusive several times to both myself and my other renter. I am concerned it will turn physical. I went online and found a Notice to Quit form, giving him 9 days (from date of last outburst) to move out. I had a neighbor serve him with it. The neighbor had a form notarized saying he served it. Am I within my rights to kick him out in this way? That day is tomorrow and he must be out by noon. What are my options if he doesn’t move out? I have become. A sick nervous wreck over this. Thank you for your advise. This is a very upsetting situation.

  • Donna
    December 11, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Ok so my daughter lives in my other house and pays the bills. She felt sorry for a family of two adults and three kids and let them stay with her short time to get a place and job. I was not asked and found out. My daughter has been telling them they need to leave. Now they are saying give us thirty day notice. They have not paid a penny to stay there because they are lazy adults sponging off people and trying to get state money too. Soky question is , do a have to give them notice ? Mow i also found out they ripped a screen window to get in house to put a chager on thier car knowing there was a plug outside. Also gas and gas cans have gone missing. Help.

  • Ardith Grosse
    November 6, 2015, 2:19 pm

    My renter decided not to pay rent in Nov,instead to use the damage deposit for the rent. Rent is $650.00 a month, and deposit was $500.00. She claims she can’t afford to pay the whole amount because she only makes $13.00 an hr, and had to get a rental unit.
    The Condo has never been clean when I was in there to fix the holes under the sinks per the fire department
    She has threaten me with lawsuit because I want full rent>
    Sincerely AG

  • Tamalynn
    September 17, 2015, 12:35 pm

    Where do I go from here?
    My daughter was living in a house I owed. No rent paid. She moved her boyfriend in. Since then she has moved to her brother’s house
    Her now Ex-boyfriend now refused to leave. Electric in my name, water in my house. Loan on propoerty in my name.
    Hard to evict, he is workimg out of stat. His stuff still I’m house
    House empty 3 weeks how

  • Tony
    August 20, 2015, 12:10 pm

    I am a (land lord) the renters have moved out. The gas bill and trash bills have been paid. However, the city water bill has not.

    When I go to the city (Mound, MN) to change back the utility bill into my name (me; the owner) Until new renters can be found. The City of Mound informs me that there is a 990.71 charge on the bill and the name it is under is not and was not my now gone renters. Never was there name.

    I find out that the renters tried to pay the bill and it even shows in the city’s computer they tried. The utility bill was not in there name.
    Renters “why should I pay for someone elses bill. I have been paying all this time and they tell (the renter) I owe for someone elses bill”

    I go into the City of Mound and find out that the renter is correct. It is not his name and or mine and still here is a 990.71 bill.

    Noah (City of Mound official) tells me that the bill goes with the house and that the city of Mound is owed 990.71 and that the bill is now (the home owners responsibility a.k.a. my responsibility)

    telling me that they will look into it (Noah, City of Mound) and the third pary company that over-sees the billing who never tells me who they are but they will be in contact with me.
    The City of Mound takes my money, of course, and I never hear back.

    What are my rights?

    If I were the previous renters, I would have not paid the bill either.
    The renters still insist that the bill was paid and that they took the phone number to cancel the utility bill right off the bill to pay the final amount.
    It even shows in the City of Mound (third party companies) computer that they attempted to pay it.
    I also had to pay the previous owners utility bill when I bought the house over 13 years ago.

  • Travis
    May 4, 2015, 7:34 pm

    We applied for a town home to live in. They requested $70 for a background check for each of us + $400 security deposit. We sent it off along with the information they asked us to fill out. Called us back 4 days later and stated background check and credit check came back all good.

    But, then they requested more information, bank statements, tax information, 401k info, asset info, etc. We filled out those forms and sent to them and we still haven’t heard anything. We sent the security deposit 2 weeks ago so they could do the background check and hold the town home, and we still do not know if we are approved for the town home yet, even though they called and told us that the credit and background check came back good.

    I questioned sending a security deposit before being approved, but they said we had to it to hold the town home for us. I just don’t understand why it has to take two weeks to get this all completed?

  • Chcuk Cameron
    April 1, 2015, 8:56 pm

    Lyle Knochenmus
    Lives in my mother-in-laws Condominium at 4400 36th Ave N Apt 235
    Robbinsdale Mn. 55422.

    He moved in and agreed to pay a fee to live there based on the idea he would buy the Condo. He signed a contract.
    The Condo is owned by my mother-in-law who is 90 years old and lives in a home with Alzheimer’s disease. He has been late with a few payments over the last few years and now he has decided to live in the Condo for the last month and April without paying any fees. He therefore has decided that it is OK to steal apx. $2,000 from this elderly woman because:
    1} He’s feels I’m dumb.
    2} He is aware a lawyer will not deal with him because
    $2,000 is just too small of a total to chase after him.
    3} He has faith that his job is so secure with Whole Foods that he can get away with this “small crime.”
    He’s stealing $2,000 From an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease.
    If he decides to pay up he may also decide to trash the place knowing there is nothing I can do about it.
    1} Because maybe I’m a fool.
    And 2} because a lawyer would never chase after him for robbing an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease, and trash her apartment.
    Lee Square Cooperative and their OAK TREE REALTY Company, the other 2 mentioned in the contract also think stealing from Carolyn $2,000 is a crime not worth pursuing.

    If you can help me, or the elderly woman; Carolyn Parrish at Prairie Lodge 6001 Earle Brown Drive and stop this small crime I will very much appreciate it.
    My daughter Rachel Cameron is getting married at the end of April and this crook is desperately hiding under her skirts because everybody will be paying attention to her and not his theft.

    Your friend in Need
    Chuck Cameron.

  • nanette
    March 23, 2015, 6:29 pm

    3 college girls in Bemidji, 1year lease,one roommate leaves lease gets out of lease by having her mother send an email. Don’t know what was in that e mail but now we are stuck and can’t afford to finish lease we only have April and may to pay the lease is up. The roommate was 21yrs old can her mom really just send an email to break the lease, without any other notice to the staying roommates and in fact no notice to all beforehand that we are aware of?

  • John
    March 19, 2015, 12:57 pm

    What can I do if I’m on a month to month and gave my notice im moving out but my roommate isn’t sure what they are doing? Basically they have my 30 day notice and I have a form for my roommate to sign saying he’s taking the lease over and he’s refusing to sign the paper. My landlord is telling me that if he don’t sign it I will still be responsible for rent if he don’t sign it. How is this possible if I’m telling them I want out and we are just on a month to month agreement with them.

  • Nancy
    March 17, 2015, 3:33 pm

    What does a landlord do when tenants continue to smoke in a building that was made nonsmoking several years ago? Tenant has been notified, signs posted. Other tenants are complaining, have witnessed person smoking, but landlord hasn’t personally witnessed the smoking, although obviously can smell it.

  • laurel
    February 21, 2015, 6:17 pm

    Can a landlord deduct “rent” from a damage deposit, if the tenant didn’t vacate the property on the date stated, but rather left his things in the unit for an additional ten days without paying? This prevented us from getting into the property to clean and make repairs.

  • Michelle
    February 14, 2015, 1:12 am

    We did a rent to own the first time we met her is when we signed the agreement. She is the only one on the lease. Now she emailed us stating her husband moved in with her and that was all she needed to due was tell us that. She did not ask nor she said she does not want him on the lease in case things do not work out because they had been separated. Do we not have rights in this? Does she not have to ask and does he not have to be on the lease? She already has pulled other things that we requested her to resolve and has not but she knows we are in a different state and she says she is a paralegal and basically is telling us we have no rights and that she is within her rights.

  • Eric
    December 24, 2014, 12:49 am

    I had a tenant leave without paying for a month’s rent and the utilities. There was not a written lease agreement between us. What are my rights in order to recoup the lost rent?

  • Pam
    September 13, 2014, 11:33 pm

    I had a tenant that rented for 6 months. When they left, portions of the carpeting were urine soaked and stained, dried of course. They left their couch and love seat, the drive way has MANY oil drips as well as a small hole in the wall.
    My question is-
    Do I need to supply them with receipts of having these replaced/repaired or just the estimates I have received.

    I have told them that we didn’t plan on charging them more than their deposit just because we know they could never pay.
    She is insistent on only paying for the stained areas of the carpeting and does not believe the drive way should even be an issue as well as leaving the couches.

    Any advice would be great!!

  • Jon
    August 30, 2014, 2:00 am

    Is interest owed on both the security deposit as well as prepaid last month’s rent?

  • James Lin
    July 17, 2014, 6:10 pm

    Hi, we had rent a apartment for couple year in Minnesota, and now we need to move out. But now the apartment landlord notice us that we need to pay for the carpet replacement. So I here wondering after how many years residence the apartment landlord can charge tenant for this replacement payment fee in Minnesota? and I will also need the law reference, thank you so much.

  • Bobbie
    July 2, 2014, 5:45 pm

    I am new to renting out my home in Dakota County. I have had a couple people tell me that by law, married couples only have to pay one application fee. I want to charge $30 per adult for background, credit, rental history, etc. Is this true for married couples? Thank you

  • Jeanie
    April 22, 2014, 1:23 am

    I own and live in one half of a duplex. My current tenants have rented from me for 2 years and are currently interested in signing another one-year lease. I am concerned about excessive noise and being disturbed quite regularly from their kids and friend visitors playing basketball and bouncing balls off walls, windows, etc. and at late times of the night. My second question is are their Mn guidelines for family members staying with tenants? Is there a limit to days staying without paying rent? Bringing Pets?

  • gail
    February 24, 2014, 2:14 am

    Hello, We rented a house from a Vendee in Oct. 2013 we signed a 12 mo lease. In Dec. 2013, The Vendor called us and stated that the Vendee had not made his payments since Oct. 2013. The Vendor wants $800.00/month or he was going to evict us. Our lease states $700.00. Can he do this without giving us notice? And does the Vendor have to follow are lease? The Vendor refuses to cancel the Contract for Deed under MN statue 559.21. We have also had to move our daughter upstairs because we found out that there was no heat system for the basement, and there are broken windows that the Vendee agreed to fix. What are my options?