Thousands Of Minnesota Renters Could Be Facing Eviction Due To A Legal Loophole
During the height of the pandemic and even now many people who rent a home or apartment have fallen behind on payments due to job loss or illness. One such person is Brianna Berger who was renting a home in Big Lake Minnesota when she became sick from COVID-19 back in October of 2021. She basically had COVID-19 all month long and was not able to work with no other income coming in.
She applied for emergency rental assistance from RentHelpMN which was established to help people like her from being evicted due to COVID-19. Unfortunately for some the deadline to fill out an application was January 28 2022 and they are no longer accepting applications. But if you did get your application in before the deadline you can use that as protection by going to court when assigned and showing proof that you have an application waiting to be processed.
But in Bergers case, her landlord used a loophole in the system to bypass the pandemic protection against evictions. In this maneuver, the landlord does not have to show any proof that the tenant did anything wrong or broke any rules. Her eviction started with a notice from the landlord to vacate the property which can be issued to a tenant at the end of a lease or anytime during a monthly or verbal agreement. When she failed to leave the property that is when the eviction process started.
Rachael Sterling, is the COVID-19 eviction response coordinator at HOME Line, said to FOX9:
Minnesota law doesn’t require in normal times a landlord to have any reason. It could be that there were clouds in the sky today, and I just don't feel like being a landlord anymore, and here's your notice you have to be out in 30 or 60 days, and there's nothing that would restrict them from doing that.
Meanwhile, Berger has been living with a friend for the last few months because she is unable to find a place to rent on her own due to the eviction. Being someone who has been looking for a place to rent in the Twin Ports for the last few months I guarantee you every application you fill out asks if you have a felony and have you ever been evicted? Both of which make it difficult to rent. For myself, I could not imagine how hard that would be, it was challenging enough to find a place that allowed dogs, but thankfully I was finally able to find a place that suited all my needs.
Hopefully, a change will happen soon to offer better protection for tenants especially if they have just a verbal agreement to rent an apartment. Some politicians like Senator Lindsey Port have brought this issue to the state capitol in the past, but efforts were stalled at the legislature. She has vowed to bring up the issue of renter's rights to the legislature when they are back in session.