COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 3, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Governor's eviction moratoriumSupreme Court orderLaw Help MinnesotaPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerGovernor's eviction extension 06/20

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Minnesota
Are there any special protections for Minnesota renters during the emergency? How long do they last?

Yes, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered a suspension of most evictions during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency period. It went into effect on March 24, 2020 and ends when Minnesota's public health emergency ends.

The emergency period is set to end on July 13, 2020. Check here for updates on dates.

Landlords may still pursue evictions in cases where a renter has seriously endangered the safety of other residents or violates other laws.

What do the protections mean for Minnesota renters?

The protections means that for most Minnesota renters, through the end of the public health emergency (currently scheduled to be July 13th):

  1. Your landlord cannot give you a notice to leave.
  2. Your landlord cannot file a new eviction case in court against you for not paying your rent, staying after your lease ended, or breaking the terms of your lease. But your landlord can file an eviction against you if you or someone in your home put anyone's safety in serious danger. This is true if they are in your home, in the yard around your home, or in common areas of an apartment building. Your landlord cannot evict you because of things that happened away from your home.
  3. Hearings on most evictions are suspended, and the court will not hear an eviction case against you unless you are putting someone in danger, as described above.
  4. The court may still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of recovery against you.
  5. Law enforcement may not enforce an existing eviction order against you, unless the court evicted you because of a crime or threat to health or safety.

These protections do no apply if there is an emergency situation, when a renter may be endangering the safety of others.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency?

Yes, Minnesota renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

If you are unable to pay, you will be protected from being removed from your home, or having your landlord file an eviction court case against you during the state of emergency. But after the emergency ends, renters will have to pay back rent or face possible eviction.

Check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, you should:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Tell your landlord in writing about any repair problems: Keep a copy of this writing and take pictures or videos of any repair problems. You might be able to argue that you owe less rent because of the repair problems. See below for more information about repairs during the public health emergency.
  • Check for help: Contact your Legal Aid office for advice and to see if they can help.If you need financial help for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency?

Minnesota renters cannot be evicted from their homes for not paying rent during the emergency period, and landlords cannot file new eviction cases in most circumstances.

Under Governor Walz’s eviction suspension order, most renters cannot be evicted from their homes for not paying their rent during the state of emergency. During this period, landlords can still ask for rent, but they cannot give a notice to leave or file an eviction court case for not paying your rent, staying after your lease ended, or breaking the terms of your lease.

Courts have put most current eviction cases on hold during the emergency period.

Law enforcement cannot remove people from their homes, even if there is an existing eviction order against them, during the emergency period.

  • Your landlord can file an eviction against you if you or someone in your home put anyone's safety in serious danger. This is true if they are in your home, in the yard around your home, or in common areas of an apartment building. Your landlord cannot evict you because of things that happened away from your home. Call Legal Aid for help with this kind of case.

Once the emergency period ends, landlords can start evictions again, and law enforcement can begin to enforce eviction orders to remove renters from their homes.

If you get a notice to leave, lease termination, or eviction court papers, reach out for legal help.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Minnesota?

Some Minnesota renters may be protected against utility shutoffs during the emergency. It depends on where you live.

Utility bills are still due as normal, but some renters will be protected from shutoffs if they are not able to pay these bills.

Some Minnesota utility companies are stopping all shutoffs during the emergency. Some local cities have ordered that no resident's water can be shutoff. Check here for more details.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities to try to force the renter out. This is illegal. Learn more about illegal utility shutoffs here. If this happens to you, call the police and reach out to a lawyer for help.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me?

Are eviction cases still moving through Minnesota courts?

What if I am in public housing or get help from Section 8 or another program?

What other rules does the landlord have to follow during the public health emergency?

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