Q: What is the best way to get a family removed from my one-bedroom apartment? They have been staying with me since October 2016. I recently received notice that I am in violation of my lease, since this family is not on the lease with me. They say they have no place to go and have a baby.
A: Some landlords or owners allow extended guests, but the majority do not allow guests to stay as long as yours have, without being on the lease. In Minnesota, you can be evicted for a violation of your lease terms, and having additional people live with you who are not listed on the lease is typically considered a violation of the lease. I’m sure you’re just trying to help this family in their time of need, but you risk being evicted, so you need to have them move out as soon as possible. Having an eviction on your record may make it harder for you to find a place to rent.
You don’t mention whether they pay you anything for staying in the apartment. If you did not request any money from them for rent, or you did not specify how long they could stay, then your question may not even be a landlord/tenant issue, in which case it’s much more complicated.
First, if this family is going to be homeless because they can’t find anywhere else to go, you may be able to help get them into a shelter. There are several in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs, such as Mary’s Place, 612-338-4855, or St. Stephens Shelter, 612-874-0311.
If this is a situation where you allowed them to stay for a specified period, and they have stayed past that date, then it may be a tenancy-at-will, which requires a three-month notice to vacate.
If they were supposed to pay rent to you, and have not, you can bring an eviction action against them for failure to pay rent, as they are your subtenants. You can go to Hennepin County Housing Court and get the necessary forms. You should know that it costs $324 to file an eviction action, and that the plaintiff cannot serve the papers, so you will have to hire someone to do that, in addition to paying the filing fee.
If they have paid rent to you, and there is no written lease, then you can give them one full month’s notice to vacate. Then, if they fail to move, you can file an eviction action. Remember, notice has to be tied to the beginning of the rental period. So, if they pay their rent on the first of the month, then you have to give them one full month’s notice plus one day.
If they moved in as guests and refuse to leave, then it may be a little murkier. They may be considered licensees, and in order to evict them, you may have to proceed in district court. That would take a long time, and may not work for you since the landlord is interested in having them leave soon. You could ask the landlord to bring an eviction action against them, but that also could end up being messy; the court could state that, since you signed the lease, you have to go as well.
You could try calling police, and asking them to come and remove the tenants. However, most of the time, police will not take action as they do not know whom to believe, and will likely state that this is a civil matter.
I would give your extended guests the names and contact information for several homeless shelters. Tell them that they have to leave immediately or you risk being evicted. If they do not leave, then you need to determine the best option for you based on whether they have been paying rent or what the agreement was when they first moved in. Inform them how difficult it will be to find a place after they are named in eviction papers. You need to be firm when you tell them they have to find a place to go. You should also contact your landlord to let him know that the guests are leaving, and keep him updated as to the timeline.
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.