Q I'm renting a house and planning to move out in the fall. I don't see in my contract anything that says how many months' notice I have to give. What is the norm -- two months? How do I word my letter?

A It's common to give two months' notice. The more notice you can give, the better for the landlord, which often can smooth the relationship. If your lease says nothing about a time frame, one month's notice is the minimum.

Remember, the notice has to be given before the end of the month. For example, give your notice by the end of September for a departure at the end of November, not the beginning of October.

If you are mailing your notice, do it at least three business days before the end of the month. There is no required language for such a letter. Most people simply state that they are moving out on a certain date and that they are providing notice of their intent to move from the apartment pursuant to their lease.

Make a copy of the letter to keep with your records.

Illness raises issues

Q My mother and her husband are sharing an apartment, and they both signed the lease. The lease runs through June 1. My mother is terminally ill and will be in a nursing home for the rest of her life and their lease.

Because she will no longer be able to live in the apartment, is there any legal way to get her name off the lease? Can the landlord hold the estate or the person who holds power of attorney liable for the remaining balance if she dies before the lease ends?

A Sorry to hear about your mother. Unfortunately, Minnesota Statute 504B.265 only permits termination of the lease upon the death of all the tenants. If one tenant dies, that tenant's obligations may be terminated after 60 days' notice to the landlord (or one month's notice if the lease is month-to-month). The other tenant still is obligated to pay the entire rent and cannot terminate his or her duties in the lease unless the lease otherwise permits.

You can talk to the landlord and try to work out a deal, especially if both parties to the lease are interested in moving. Make sure to put any such arrangement in writing.

The landlord can hold the estate liable for two months' rent if a tenant dies, but that can be negotiated with the landlord. Unless the person who holds power of attorney signed a guaranty of the lease or co-signed, he or she doesn't have any personal liability.

Dad wants to evict son

Q Do you have any advice about evicting my 32-year-old son from my house? I have served him one month's written notice. He is not making any effort to get a job or move out. What should I do?

A You can evict a tenant, your son in this case, from your home by bringing an eviction action against him. The landlord must have a legitimate reason for eviction, which can be for nonpayment of rent, failure to comply with the lease terms or when the tenant has refused to leave after notice to vacate has been properly served.

Typically, when a tenant doesn't pay rent when it is due, the landlord may immediately bring an eviction action unless the lease doesn't allow for it. In your situation, you have properly served the tenant notice and he is still refusing to leave.

You didn't indicate whether your son has a lease. If there is no lease, he is considered to be on a month-to-month tenancy. Therefore, the 30 days' written notice will suffice.

For an eviction action, you will be filing a complaint against your son in district court. Your son will then be served with a summons ordering him to appear in court. Landlords must have a disinterested third party serve the tenant, such as a service, the sheriff or any person who is 18.

The judge will hear both sides and rule. If you win, a writ of recovery will be issued. Your son will have 24 hours to leave your house. If he doesn't, you should notify the sheriff, and he'll be removed from the house.

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 kklein@kleinpa.com, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.