Q I am renting a two-bedroom apartment with my two children. I am getting married and acquiring two additional children.
Is there a legal way to break my lease due to my family size increasing? Plus, someone in my building told the landlord what is happening and he wants me to sign a new lease to add my husband effective Oct. 1 (my current lease started July 1). He also made it very clear that the apartment is not big enough for my stepchildren to stay.
A Minnesota Statute 504B.315 prohibits a landlord from evicting a tenant because of a change in familial status. While city ordinances might prohibit a tenant from having a certain number of people in a room, those are trumped by the statute. You are permitted to have these children in your unit. If your landlord harasses you after being informed of the statute, you should consider contacting an attorney.
There is a legal way to terminate your tenancy early. You could go to your landlord and request that you pay a couple of months' rent to be let out of your lease early. If he agrees to this, please make sure you get the agreement in writing and have both parties sign it.
Q I rent a house in Minneapolis, and my landlord is always around. He shows up early and does noisy repairs, and often comes and asks if he can work inside without calling first.
He has stopped over while I am sleeping upstairs. He apparently knocks on the door, and when I don't answer, comes in and makes repairs. This creeps me out.
I have come home to find him in the house doing repairs. In each case I had notified him of the need for a repair, but then he just stops by, and if he can't reach me, he just comes in.
Do I have a right to ask him to give me notice when he is doing things outside, and can I reasonably expect him to call me before entering the house?
A Minnesota Statute 504B.211 outlines when a landlord may enter a unit, and the notice requirements. Basically, a landlord is required to give reasonable notice before entering a unit. Whether reasonable notice is a knock on the door or notice two weeks in advance depends on the situation. The intent of the statute is to prevent landlords from simply walking into a unit unannounced balanced against the landlord's need to perform maintenance.
Most courts have held that when a tenant requests maintenance, the landlord is not required to schedule a time, but may simply come and knock on the door. However, given that it appears that several times he has entered while you were sleeping, a simple knock does not appear to be reasonable.
If the landlord has a cell phone, a call to the residence might be reasonable. In addition, maybe he could give you a note the night before, so you know he will be in the house early the next morning and can be prepared. These issues should be worked out with your landlord. If you make reasonable requests, and he continues to enter without regard to them, I think you have a much stronger argument if you do bring an action against him.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Do not rely on advice in this column regarding a legal situation until you consult a qualified attorney; information provided by readers is not confidential; participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship, and no such relationship is created without a retainer agreement with Klein. If you have questions concerning renting, you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, post your questions at www.startribune.com/kellyklein or write in care of Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488.