Q: I am trying to help my mother evict my sister’s boyfriend from my mother’s house. He was never supposed to live there, but has stayed there over a year. There is no lease, and neither my sister nor her boyfriend have ever paid any rent. My mother is unsure of the first step she should take. She is wondering if she can just print out a document and hand it to him, or if the document has to be delivered to him by mail. My mother also is wondering if the document can just simply state that she is giving him 30 days’ notice to leave her house. After becoming a widow several years ago, she is now the sole owner of the home, which is located in Hennepin County. All the forms I have found online refer to a lease and seem to require a reason to terminate the lease, such as unpaid rent or a lease violation. Can you point us in the right direction?
A: Minnesota law states that when there is no lease, and no rent being paid, then your sister and her boyfriend are considered to be tenants-at-will. In order for your mother to evict your sister’s boyfriend, your mother needs to give him a three-month written notice to end his tenancy. The notice can be handwritten or typed and doesn’t have to be mailed, so your mother or you can simply hand it to him. The reason for the three-month notice, instead of a shorter time period, is because no rent has been paid and there is no other violation of a written or oral lease. Landlords are able to end a renter’s tenancy much faster when there is a lease in existence and the tenant violates the lease terms by not paying their rent, or when there is no lease in place but the tenant is still paying rent every month and then fails to pay rent.
Once the time has passed on your mother’s three-month written notice to terminate the boyfriend’s tenancy, your mother then may need to file an eviction action if the boyfriend fails to move out. If the boyfriend has not moved out after the three months are up, you and your mother should go to the Hennepin County Courthouse and complete the paperwork to evict him. The court clerks can help you complete that paperwork if necessary, but it’s relatively simple. The eviction notice needs to be served on your sister’s boyfriend by someone who is not a party to the case. Since your mother is a party, she cannot hand him the eviction notice. You or your sister, since you are not parties, may serve the notice, or you can hire the sheriff or a company that serves process to serve the court papers. The court clerk will probably inform you of that information. There is a fee in Hennepin County to file an eviction, so hopefully the boyfriend will leave once he’s given three-month notice to terminate his tenancy. Most tenants leave after receiving notice to terminate their tenancy since they know an eviction is coming next, and that it will be difficult for them to rent once an eviction is on their record.
You noted that you had trouble finding a form online to terminate this tenancy because the forms included terms such as unpaid rent or other lease violations. The form can be as simple as the following: “Notice to Vacate” (at the top of the form); Your mother’s name and address as Landlord; I, (your mother’s name) hereby terminate the tenancy of (your sister’s boyfriend’s name) at the following address: (include your mother’s street address, city, state, and ZIP); Please vacate on or before March 30, 2019 (if you can hand him the notice during December 2018); then include a signature line and date line at the bottom of the page, and have your mother sign and date it. You or your mother should hand this notice to him as soon as possible. If he hasn’t moved out at the end of three months, then file the necessary paperwork at Hennepin County to evict him.
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 email@example.com, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.