Q I rent a home on a month-to-month lease. My mother is on the lease as a co-signer, but does not live there. I asked if I could add someone to my lease and have a dog, with a negotiable deposit amount. The landlord said no to both my requests, without giving me a specific reason. So my boyfriend and I started looking at new places. I put in my 30-day notice, thinking it wouldn't make a difference if my boyfriend or my dog lived here for the last 30 days because if any damage occurred, the landlord could deduct the cost from my damage deposit. But my landlord showed up screaming at me that both the dog and my boyfriend must exit the property immediately or I will be evicted. Can my landlord evict me after I already put in my notice?
A Under Minnesota law, a landlord can evict a tenant for any material violation of the lease provision, even though you've already given your 30-day notice. However, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for retaliatory reasons, such as a tenant reporting a housing code violation, landlord license problem or other similar issues. When a tenant violates a lease provision, such as no pets allowed, or no additional renter, the landlord may move to evict the tenant for violating the conditions of his or her lease. You should have spoken to your landlord about wanting your dog and boyfriend to live with you for the last 30 days of your rental period, then waited until you received the landlord's written permission before allowing your boyfriend and dog to move in. Your failure to do so could now affect your ability to rent in the future. If prospective landlords contact your current landlord regarding your status as a good tenant, your current landlord may not give you a good recommendation. You should speak to your landlord about your lease violation and try to work something out, such as having your boyfriend and dog move out as soon as possible. If you've already signed a lease for a new apartment, it would be wise to find out if they can move in early. Keep the lines of communication open with your current landlord so you can avoid an eviction on your rental record. While a landlord can move to evict a tenant after the tenant gives notice, an eviction action takes at least two weeks and is quite expensive. You can defend the eviction by asserting that the landlord filed in retaliation for your notice to vacate, and you may win, unless the landlord can prove that he filed for the lease violations related to the boyfriend and the dog. If you do prevail, ask that the eviction action be expunged, so it is off your record.
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.