I let a friend live in my home without making a lease or getting a deposit. He has stopped paying me and does not actually live here any more.

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I let a friend live in my home without making a lease or getting a deposit. He has stopped paying me and does not actually live here any more.

My roomate claims the letter I wrote evicting him is not legal and I cannot remove his property. I have told him many times to remove his property if he is not going to pay his rent. I dont want any of his property and would like it gone but he wont make any effort. I’m sure he is going to leave most of it here anyways so can I just remove it.

Asked on May 16, 2009 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

You don't have a written agreement with him.  Okay, so let's say you have a tenancy at will.  Is this a home you own? In other words, you are not renting an apartment, correct?

The Minnesota Attorney General's office offers an online handbook on landlord tenant matters.  See this hyperlink and some excerpts below, including one called "Abandoned Property":  http://www.tenant.net/Other_Areas/Minnesota/handhead.html#top


Periodic Tenancy Leases
If there is nothing mentioned about the length of the tenancy in the rental agreement (which may be written or oral), the lease is a periodic one. This means the rental period runs from one rent payment to the next. Minn. Stat. §504.06 (1992). For example, if the rent is due once a month, on the first day of every month, the rental period runs from that day through the day before the next rent payment. In this case, that would be on the last day of each month.

A periodic tenancy is automatically renewed each rental period until it is ended by either the landlord or the tenant. The person ending the tenancy must give the other "proper notice." The length of notice and what form it must take will be stated in the lease. Minn. Stat. §504.06 (1992). If the lease does not state a notice requirement, state law requires written notice be given on full rental period plus one day before the tenancy's end. Minn. Stat. §504.06 (1992); Oesterreicher v. Robertson, 187 Minn. 497, 245 N.W. 825 (1932). For example, a tenant with a month-to-month tenancy who wishes to leave at the end of June would have to give written notice no later than May 31.


The tenant must not abuse the rental property, and must pay for any damage the tenant causes beyond normal wear and tear. A landlord may sue a tenant for the willful and malicious destruction of residential rental property. The party that wins may recover actual damages, costs, and reasonable attorney's fees, as well as other damages determined by the court. Minn. Stat. §504.257 (supp. 1993).


The tenant cannot alter the rental unit without the landlord's permission. Ordinarily, a tenant is not allowed to paper or paint walls, resurface floors, dismantle or install permanent fixtures, alter woodwork or carpet, or make other changes without the landlord's permission.



Storage of Personal Property
When the sheriff performs the eviction, the tenant's remaining property must either be stored on the premises or placed in storage in a bonded warehouse or other suitable storage place. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. 2 (1992).

In cases where the tenant's property will be stored on the premises, the landlord must prepare an inventory that is signed and dated in the presence of a peace officer. A copy of the inventory must be mailed to the tenant at the tenant's last known address, or to an address provided by the tenant. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b) (1992). The inventory must include the following:

  1. A listing of the items of personal property, and a description of the condition of that property. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b)(1) (1992).
  2. The date, the signature of the landlord, and the name and telephone number of the person authorized to release the property. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b)(2) (1992).
  3. The name and badge number of the peace officer. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b)(3) (1992).

The officer must keep a copy of the inventory. The landlord is responsible for the proper removal, storage and care of the defendant's personal property and is liable for damages to, or loss of, the tenant's personal property if the landlord fails to exercise care in regard to that property.

The landlord should notify the tenant of the date and approximate time the officer is scheduled to remove the tenant and his or her personal property from the premises. The notice should be sent by first class mail. The landlord should also make a good faith effort to notify the tenant by telephone, explicitly informing the tenant that the tenant and the tenant's property will be removed from the premises if the tenant has not vacated by the time specified in the notice. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b) (1992).

According to Minnesota law, this provision may not be waived or modified by any oral or written lease or other agreement. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. 3 (1992).

To Get the Property Back
In cases where the tenant's personal property is stored on the premises, the tenant need only contact the landlord in writing to demand return of the property.

In cases where the tenant's property is stored away from the premises (at a bonded warehouse or other suitable storage place) the landlord has a lien (legal claim) on the tenant's personal property for the reasonable costs of removing, transporting, and storing the property. The landlord can enforce this lien by keeping the property until the landlord's expenses are paid. Minn. Stat. §566.17, subd. (2)(b) (1992).

Regardless of whether the tenant's property is stored on or away from the premises, the tenant, to get the property back, does not have to pay any unpaid rent, security deposit, or late charges. The landlord can sue the tenant in court for these items. Tenants who lose Unlawful Detainer actions, however, do have to pay court costs.


Also, a landlord cannot cart away or keep a tenant's belongings for nonpayment of rent or other charges. If a tenant finds that the landlord has taken the tenant's things, the tenant can get them back by demanding, in writing, that they be returned. The landlord has 24 hours to return them (48 hours if they are somewhere other than the apartment). If they aren't returned, the landlord may be sued in conciliation court where he or she may be ordered not only to give the property back, but to pay the tenant punitive damages of up to $300 in addition to actual damages (cost of storage, hauling, physical damage, replacement, etc.) and reasonable attorney's fees. Minn. Stat. §504.24, subd. 2 (1992).



Any personal property a tenant leaves behind after moving out must first be stored by the landlord. The landlord can collect from the tenant all moving and storage costs. But the tenant can get his or her property back before paying the moving and storage costs. If the tenant refuses to pay the moving and storage costs the landlord can sue the tenant to recover those costs. Minn. Stat. §504.24, subd. 1 (1992). The landlord has 24 hours after receiving a request from a tenant to return a tenant's personal property (48 hours if stored in another location). This period does not include weekends or holidays. Minn. Stat. §504.24, subd. 2 (1992).

Sixty days after the landlord has either received a notice of abandonment, or it has become reasonably apparent that the unit has been abandoned, the landlord may sell or get rid of the property in whatever way the landlord wishes. The landlord must make a reasonable effort, however, to contact the tenant at least two weeks before the sale of the items, to let the tenant know they are being sold or disposed of. The landlord must do this either by personally giving the tenant a written notice of the sale or by sending the notice by certified mail (return receipt requested) to the tenant's last known address or likely living quarters if that is known by the landlord. The landlord must also post a notice of the sale in a clearly visible place on the premises for at least two weeks before the sale.

The landlord may use a reasonable amount of the money from the sale to pay for the costs of removing and storing the property, back rent, damages caused by the tenant, and other debts the tenant owes the landlord under an agreement. Money earned in excess of the landlord's costs belongs to the tenant, if the tenant has written and asked for it. The landlord may not withhold the tenant's property pending payment of any rent that may be owing. If the tenant has asked for his or her property back before the 60 day waiting period ends, the landlord must give the property back. Minn. Stat. §504.24, subd. 1 (1992).

The landlord must return the tenant's property within 24 hours after the tenant's written demand, or 48 hours (not counting the weekends and holidays) if the landlord has moved the tenant's property somewhere other than the apartment building or house. If the landlord or the landlord's agent does not allow the tenant to reclaim the property after the tenant has written for it, the tenant may sue for a penalty not to exceed $300 plus any damages the tenant suffered plus reasonable attorney's fees. Minn. Stat. §504.24, subd. 2 (1992).

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