Q: I own a home, and I decided to rent out a room to earn a little extra income. A roommate moved in Oct. 31, 2017, but has not yet signed a lease or agreed verbally to any lease for any length of time. The roommate also has not paid the full month's rent for November 2017. What are my legal rights as a homeowner, and what kind of a notice do I need to give the roommate to leave my house?
A: Since your roommate hasn't signed a written lease yet, or agreed to any oral lease, she is considered to be on a month-to-month lease. When roommates or tenants on a month-to-month lease don't pay their rent, you can usually terminate the lease and bring an eviction action immediately, as failure to pay rent is considered a violation of the lease terms, even when there is no written lease.
However, it sounds like you accepted partial rent for the month of November. A landlord may not bring an eviction action in the same month that partial rent has been accepted.
You should give the tenant a written notice to terminate the month-to-month lease sometime before the end of November, stating that the lease is to be terminated on Dec. 31. If the tenant fails to pay rent in December, then you can bring an eviction action anytime after Dec. 1, but you should know that the tenant has the right to cure by paying all outstanding rent plus any costs you incurred in bringing the eviction action. Remember, if you accept a partial rent payment in December, you cannot bring an eviction action during that month, so you should make sure you accept payment only for all outstanding rent.
Mold not addressed
Q: My sister is currently renting a home in Bloomington, and the owner uses a property management company. While my sister had visitors staying in the basement bedroom, they found mold in the basement. My sister had two different mold companies come out to inspect the property, with the landlord present, and were told that there is a mold issue that needs to be resolved.
My sister has now been told by the management company that there is no mold in the property anymore, and that the problem has been resolved. However, the mold still exists. My sister wants the mold problem cleared up or she wants to leave. The property management company is being very rude and short with her. What should she do?
A: Your sister needs to write the property management company a letter stating that she has a mold problem in her basement that needs to be resolved within 14 days. Then, in 14 days, if the mold problem hasn't been resolved to your sister's satisfaction, she should file a rent escrow action in Hennepin County. Your sister should attach a copy of her letter to the landlord, along with any other proof that the mold repair has not been made, such as a letter from the mold companies that visited, photos and correspondence between your sister and the property management company about the mold problem. The clerk in housing court will help your sister complete the paperwork if she needs help, but it's easy to do.
Your sister also will be placing her rent, if any rent is owed at the time, with the court. Her case will be heard in a couple of weeks. Typically, when the property management company gets the 14-day repair letter from tenants, the problem gets resolved within two weeks. There is an incentive for the landlord to resolve the problem to the tenant's satisfaction or lose one month's rent.
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.