Eviction Update: Issues with COVID-19

I represent a lot of landlords around the area and while some are very familiar with the eviction process, others are not. Today’s article will focus on the eviction process and how it’s current status in Minnesota due to COVID-19.

Back in March, Governor Walz issued an Executive Order placing a moratorium on all eviction proceedings. This decision brought about a lot of uncertainty between landlords and tenants and how their relationship would be during the strange times. In a nutshell, this Executive Order banned all evictions unless the tenant was causing harm to the landlord or other tenants. While evictions were on hold, tenants were still required to continue to pay rent. This concept was a huge issue for landlords because tenants could essentially withhold paying rent and not risk being evicted for nonpayment unless they were abusive to the landlord or other tenants. Landlords were understandably upset when they found out that they could not evict a nonpaying tenant with no idea as to when the moratorium on evictions would end.

Fast forward to today, the Executive Order banning all evictions remains in place until August 13, 2020, at a minimum. Governor Walz could extend this Executive Order for a longer period of time and we must wait until around August 13 before we get an updated answer. That said, Governor Walz did open up another avenue to pursue evictions sooner, which now includes evicting tenants that cause personal property damage to the unit. In that case, eviction hearings can now proceed beginning August 4, 2020, so long as you notify the tenant no sooner than 7 days that you will be filing an eviction complaint with court administration. This change in the Executive Order has brought considerable relief to my landlord clients. They understand that times are tough right now for everyone and have been willing to work with tenants who are struggling financially. However, when you have a tenant that is causing substantial damage to the rental unit, this creates a compounding effect for the landlord. Not only are they not receiving rent, but also dealing with a tenant who is damaging the rental unit. Allowing landlords to proceed with evictions in this situation is the correct move in my opinion.

The Executive Order that addresses these issues is Emergency Executive Order 20-79. This Executive Order does include other exceptions for landlords to proceed with an eviction. If you are interested, you can read the Order by going onto the Minnesota Legislature website.

Please send any request for topic suggestions to rene@breenandperson.com. Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know. Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.