Q: I was renting a room on a month-to-month oral lease from a guy who was in the process of purchasing the home we were living in. The deal fell through, so the guy I was renting from moved out one month ago, and the owner has removed his property.
Now the owner wants me out in less than a month so that she can sell the house to someone else. She also gave my phone number to someone who has called me and left a threatening message. The owner has workers coming into the house early in the morning making noise and staying all day. There has been no contact with me to let me know that workers will be in the house. What can I do?
A: Since you had an oral month-to-month lease with another tenant who was living on the property, typically your lease would end when one party properly terminates the lease with a written notice one full month before the end date. For example, if either party wanted to end the lease by Dec. 31, one party would need to send written notice to the other by Nov. 30. However, there are extenuating circumstances in your case, because you aren’t renting directly from the owner, and your previous landlord is no longer available and most likely can no longer be considered your landlord.
You should contact the owner of the house and let her know in writing that you will be terminating your oral lease in one full month. You should also let the owner know that she needs to give you reasonable notice before letting workers or potential buyers into the home. In Minnesota, landlords and owners may legally enter the place they are renting out, but only for a reasonable business purpose and after making a good-faith effort to give their tenant reasonable notice under the circumstances. Many landlords will give their tenants 24-hour notice of their upcoming entry if they know about it early enough. However, reasonable notice can be as short as 10 minutes. If the owner or landlord does enter the place when the tenant isn’t there, he or she needs to leave a written note disclosing that, and it must be left in a conspicuous place, such as on the door.
Your situation is different from the norm, due to your previous landlord terminating his lease and leaving the property. The oral periodic lease you had with the previous tenant may or may not carry over to the owner once the owner’s other tenant is gone. You should work out an arrangement with the owner so that you can stay in the place for one full rental period, since you had a valid oral lease with the owner’s tenant. Even though it is questionable whether the oral periodic lease you had with another tenant carries over to the owner, you should request that the owner stop the harassing phone calls, and also request adequate notice of workers or other people entering your place. If the owner agrees to your request to remain in the house for a full month, then you should put the agreement in writing and have both parties sign it.
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, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.