Q: We bought a home for our son to live in about nine years ago. About six years ago, his ex-wife, three children, three dogs and five cats moved in. The children are now 19, 21 and 22, and still living in the house, along with our son, his ex-wife and the animals. We have never received any rent money from our son or anyone else living in the house. We pay all the taxes, utilities and any upkeep expenses associated with the home. However, the property is starting to deteriorate, and we wish to evict everyone living in the house except for our son.
We paid a lawyer to write them a letter and give them notice to leave one year ago. Our son and the other people living in the house paid no attention to this letter. The lawyer is now telling us that for another $1,000, he could file a court action to have the people removed from the house. We would like to avoid going to court. Is it possible to evict them without going to court?
A: Since you purchased a home for your son to live in with no written or verbal contract in place, then no lease exists that indicates the terms and length of the tenancy. If you want to avoid taking these tenants to court, then you or your attorney need to send them another letter containing a written notice for all of them, excluding your son, to vacate by a specific date. Since you already tried once to get these people out without serving them with an eviction action, they may once again not honor the notice to vacate. However, I would mention in the letter that if they are not out of your house in 30 days, you will be forced to file an eviction action in which they will be required to show up to court and may be forced to cover your legal expenses incurred in filing this action. If the tenants do not move out in 30 days, then you have no alternative but to file a formal eviction action. In an eviction action, the occupants will be served with a document from the court stating a court date for them to appear. If the occupants leave any belongings behind, you need to safeguard them as outlined in Minn. Stat. Sections 504B.271 and 504B.365.
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, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.