Q: I was recently in a domestic relationship and ended up being shot three times. I feel threatened at my rental place because it is where I was shot, and I continue to live there. I’m afraid I cannot get out of my lease. I have done a little research and found there might be a way to get out of my lease due to my life-threatening situation. Is this true?
A: Under Minnesota law, a tenant may terminate a rental lease, without penalty, if the tenant or another authorized occupant, such as a child, fears imminent violence after a domestic abuse incident, criminal sexual conduct, or stalking has occurred.
The tenant must give the landlord written notice that is signed and dated, stating that the tenant fears imminent violence from a person, as indicated in a qualifying document, against the tenant or an authorized occupant if the tenant or authorized occupant remains in the rental property.
In this written notice to your landlord, you need to state that you must terminate your tenancy and include a date that you will vacate the property. You also need to include written instructions for your landlord to dispose of any personal property you leave behind.
This written notice must be delivered in person, by mail or fax and must come with a “qualifying document” that supports your claim. A qualifying document may consist of an order for protection, a current no-contact order, an official court statement, a statement by a law-enforcement officer or a statement by a licensed health care professional, a domestic abuse advocate or a sexual assault counselor.
If you are the only tenant, and you are terminating your lease because of domestic abuse, then you are responsible for only the rent due in the month you are terminating your lease. You will, however, forfeit your security deposit, since you are breaking the lease.
If there are several other tenants in your rental unit, their lease will also end when you break your lease, and the other tenants will forfeit their deposit as a result of breaking the lease. Your landlord may then decide to re-rent the unit to the remaining tenants, which is strictly up to your landlord and those tenants.
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. Information provided by readers is not confidential.