Q: My landlord legally evicted me two years ago for drinking on the premises. There is no written lease, but there is a verbal agreement. My landlord decided I didn't have to leave the premises after the eviction. I have not left, and I am currently not drinking on the premises. Can I get my eviction expunged?
A: To get an eviction expunged or removed from your record, a tenant must prove that the landlord had "no basis in fact or in law" for filing the eviction. There are three issues that can assist in getting your eviction removed. The first is if your landlord had the facts or the law wrong. I'm assuming that you and your landlord had a verbal agreement that you wouldn't drink on the property, and it sounds like you did drink, so your landlord probably had the facts right. However, since there is only a verbal agreement, you may have an argument for expungement because there was no written lease stating that drinking on the premises is a violation of your lease, or because drinking on the property was never mentioned in your verbal agreement. The second issue is whether you already gave up possession of your rental unit prior to the eviction, rendering the eviction void. Since you did not move out, this factor is irrelevant. The third issue is whether your landlord improperly served the court papers on you. Your landlord must either hire someone or ask a non-party to deliver the papers, at least seven days before the court case, to an adult or teen who lives in the rental unit. If you weren't legally served two years ago, then you could have an argument for expungement due to improper service.
Evictions typically stay on a tenant's record forever, but after seven years, tenant screening companies cannot legally report the eviction to landlords. It is difficult and costly for a tenant to get an eviction removed, and most expungement motions are denied. If you believe you didn't violate the verbal lease agreement, or were improperly served, you should contact HomeLine at 612-728-5767 or toll-free at 1-866-866-3546, Legal Aid at 612-334-5970, or an attorney to assist you with the filing.
Q: My landlord is planning to renovate my apartment next month. My lease isn't up until October. I've pointed out that this violates my right to quiet enjoyment of the unit, but was told that they are moving forward anyway. I'm expected to have my dog out of the unit whenever they do the renovations. I cannot afford to pay for doggy day care, and I'm also paying an extra rent fee for having my dog. Further, my landlord frequently gives only a 24-hour notice or less of entry, so I don't have enough time to arrange care for my dog and adjust my schedule to drop him off and pick him up. Do I have any rights here, or am I stuck with the inconvenience and expense?
A: In every lease there are promises that the landlord makes to tenants called Covenants of Habitability. These covenants are assurances by the landlord that the rental unit is fit for the use intended, in reasonable repair and in compliance with health and safety codes. Since your unit is undergoing renovations while you're living in it, your place may not be fit for the use intended. You didn't mention the extent of the renovation, or how long it will take. However, if parts of your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or living area are unusable, then, obviously, your apartment may not be fit for the use intended. You should not have to cover the expense of doggy day care because your landlord decided to renovate your apartment while you are living in it. The pet fee you are paying should cover that expense. Typically, 24-hour or even only a few hours notice is considered adequate for management or their workers to enter your apartment. In this case, though, since you have to find day care for your dog, your landlord should most likely provide more notice.
You should contact your landlord immediately and request a rent deduction or abatement to cover the rooms that are unusable during the renovations. Tell your landlord that you need reimbursement for any doggy day care expenses you will have to pay because of the renovations. If your landlord agrees to these terms, then you should put the agreement in writing and get it signed by you and your landlord. If your landlord refuses, then you should contact an attorney or HomeLine, a tenants' rights organization, at 612-728-5767.
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.