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 October 14, 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?

You may be protected from eviction through Dec. 31 under the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Read more below to see if you’re protected.

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.

It is currently set to expire on November 12, 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.

Minnesota renters may also have national protections against eviction through the CDC Eviction Moratorium. Check here to see if you are eligible.

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 November 12th):

  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 not 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:

  • See if you qualify for the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. If you do qualify, fill in the Declaration form and give it to your landlord. This can help stop the eviction, or give you a defense against it.
  • 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 eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.

Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.

Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:

  • Rent a home in the United States; AND
  • Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
  • Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
  • Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
  • Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
  • Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.

If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.

What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?

The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Dec. 31, 2020.

This means:

  • If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
  • You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:

  • Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
  • After the CDC Moratorium expires on Dec. 31, 2020, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.

The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:

  • Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
  • You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
  • Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.

How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?

To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:

  1. Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
  2. Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
  3. Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
  4. Protections through Dec. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through December 31, 2020. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
  5. If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
  6. You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Dec. 31, 2020, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
  7. Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.

If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.

Did I have eviction protections under the CARES Act?

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease during COVID-19 in Minnesota?

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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