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Tim is teaching a class called "Landlording 102" through Anoka Hennepin Community Education. The class will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 6:30 PM at the Staff Education Center (enter through door 7) at 2727 Ferry St., Anoka, MN 55303.

From the course description:

Discuss evictions and landlord-tenant law, including security deposits, lockouts, and abandoned tenant property. Interactive class, with plenty of time for questions, for new as well as more experienced landlords, property managers, and anyone else interested in learning more about being a landlord. Instructor is an attorney who represents primarily landlords and specializes in evictions and landlord-tenant law.Class fee: $25.

For more information and to register, please visit:

https://anokahennepin.cr3.rschooltoday.com/public/costoption/class_id/22698/public/1/sp/

 
 
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I am often asked whether a landlord should hold off on evicting a tenant until after the holidays. The short answer is no, the landlord should bring an eviction as soon as possible.  A landlord will do well to remember that being a landlord is a business. The landlord is in the business of providing housing, and those persons who do not pay their monthly rent should leave, and be replaced with tenants who actually pay their rent on time.

A tenant always has to meet their obligations under the lease to pay rent, even if there is a holiday. The landlord is under no obligation to give the tenant a gift of free rent for a month or two. Indeed, a tenant might get use to not paying rent, and then expect to stay for free. A tenant who does not pay rent is not meeting their obligation under the lease, and should be evicted.

Still, I understand that certain landlords would prefer not to bring an eviction so close to the holidays. However, if the landlord files an eviction now (December 13, 2016), the hearing on that eviction will likely not take place until the last week of the month, or possibly early in 2017. As such, I would recommend that a landlord bring an eviction sooner rather than later, even if we are in the midst of a holiday season.

Every landlord – tenant situation is unique, and I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. The first thing I will ask you is what you want to have happen because, ultimately, the landlord is in control. I have represented many landlords, but typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.



 
 
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I am often asked what a landlord should do is a tenant dies.  If a tenant dies and was not married, I generally recommend that a landlord bring an eviction action against that tenant by name, and against the estate of that tenant, if only to get the rental unit back. That way, the landlord will have the legal right to rent the unit again and dispose of any personal property remaining there.

In the event of the death of a tenant, the landlord has three primary concerns: what happens to the lease, dealing with the tenant's personal property, and dealing with the security deposit. I will now address each of these concerns in turn.

Lease

What happens to the lease upon the death of a tenant is governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .265. Basically, the lease continues in force, until the landlord or the tenant (or the tenant's estate) provide notice that the lease has terminated.

The statute provides that either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the lease by providing written notice at least 60 days in advance. In other words, the notice must be given at least two full rental periods in advance. For example, notice given sometime in the month of September actually terminates the lease as of the end of November, and the tenant's estate is on the hook for rent from the date of the notice through the end of the lease.

However, the tenant's estate remains liable for unpaid rent and other amounts due and owing under the lease through the date of the lease termination. The landlord still has to deal with the deceased tenant's personal property as well as the security deposit, but can sue the tenant's estate in conciliation court for the amounts due and owing under the lease, including unpaid rent, unpaid utilities, and damages to the rental unit beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Personal Property Belonging to the Deceased Tenant

The landlord has the duty under Minn. Stat. 504B.271 to secure the tenant's property. This can be most easily accomplished by either changing the locks, if the property is going to be stored in the unit, or moving the property to a no other secured location on site, such as a lockable garage.  Once it becomes apparent to the landlord that the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord has to secure it, as described above. The landlord has to store the property for 28 days if the property is to be stored on site.

After the property is secured, the landlord has to conduct an inventory of the property. The easiest way to do the inventory is to take digital photographs or a video of the property, accompanied by a list describing the specific items. Big-ticket items, such as a television, should be listed separately, but general categories are okay for other items, such as furniture, electronics, clothing, etc.

The landlord has to mail a copy of the inventory to the tenant (or the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last known address), which is probably the apartment. I recommend posting a sign on the door indicating that property appears to be abandoned to the landlord, the landlord has secured the tenant's personal property and that the landlord may be contacted to set up an appointment to provide access.

The landlord should only provide access to the personal property of a deceased tenant to someone who is named as a personal representative in the tenant's will.   If the tenant died intestate – that is, without a will – I would be very cautious about providing access to the property to a person who is not named or has been appointed as a personal representative. After all – the landlord does not want to be liable to the tenant's estate for improperly disposing of the tenant's personal property.

For more information on dealing with a tenant's personal property, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/what-should-a-landlord-do-with-personal-property-that-a-tenant-leaves-behind-when-the-tenant-moves-out.html

Security Deposit

Security deposits in Minnesota are governed by Minn. Stat. 504B .178. The landlord has to return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days after termination of the tenancy, with interest, less the amount of damages to the landlord beyond ordinary wear and tear.  When a tenant dies, the security deposit becomes the property of the tenant's estate. The landlord should return any deposit remaining, with appropriate interest, to either the named or appointed personal representative or to the estate of the tenant at the tenant's last-known address, which is probably the rental unit.

For more information on dealing with the security deposit, please see my previous blog post on the subject:

http://www.balandlaw.com/3/post/2016/02/how-should-a-landlord-handle-a-tenants-security-deposit-after-the-tenant-moves-out.html

The death of a tenant presents a complicated situation to the landlord, and every landlord-tenant situation is unique. For that reason, I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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Tim is teaching a free seminar/CLE on evictions and landlord-tenant law, including security deposits and abandoned tenant property. The seminar will be held on Thursday 10/6/16 from 9 AM – 10 AM at Tim's office, 2140 – 4th Ave., Anoka, MN 55303.

Here is the official description of the seminar:

In this FREE seminar, we will cover the legal aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, including how to handle evictions, security deposits, and tenant property remaining in the premises after the tenant moves out.  This seminar is geared for landlords, property managers, and attorneys who represent them.

ATTORNEYS: One standard CLE credit has been applied for.

Space is limited, so advance registration is required. For more information and to register, please visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-every-landlord-needs-to-know-about-evictions-security-deposits-abandoned-tenant-property-and-tickets-27957113479

Alternatively, you can also call Tim directly at 763-450-9494 to register.

Thanks!







 
 
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I am often asked how long a landlord should give the tenant who is not paying rent before bringing an eviction. The short answer is that, in Minnesota, the landlord should bring an eviction action as soon as the rent is late.

When I say "bring an eviction," I mean that the landlord should start an eviction action in court to regain possession of the property. Right now, because of the lease agreement, even if the tenant is not paying rent, the tenant still has the right to be in possession of the property. The landlord wants to take that possession back, especially if the tenant is not paying rent, to rent the property to some other tenant who will actually bother to pay the rent.

Most leases provide that rent is due on the first day of the month, but that the tenant can pay their rent on up to the fifth day of the month without the rent being considered "late." I typically recommend that landlords bring an eviction as soon as the rent is late. In fact, I had one client who would instruct me to bring evictions on the sixth day of every month, when rent was late.  Generally, I do not recommend waiting more than one month to bring an eviction. Otherwise, the tenant will owe too much past due rent to be able to pay it back, along with their regular rent.

Many landlords want to give tenants a little more time to pay up. I am not going to say that this is okay, but as soon as rent is late the landlord should deliver a letter to the tenant in forming the tenant that rent is late and that the landlord will start an eviction to regain control of the property if rent is not paid by such and such a date. The landlord should state the specific date on which the landlord will bring an eviction, and give the tenant a very short deadline for paying the rent.

How much time is too much? If rent is technically late on the sixth day of the month, I would probably give the tenant up to (but no more than) two weeks to pay the rent, and instruct my attorney to start an eviction as soon as the deadline for paying rent has passed.

Every landlord – tenant situation is unique, and I recommend that landlords talk to an attorney experienced in evictions and landlord tenant law before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I have represented many landlords, but typically do not represent tenants.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

 
 
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I am often asked whether a landlord should form a limited liability company (or LLC for short) or otherwise incorporate. The short answer is usually yes.

The default for a landlord is a sole proprietorship, where the landlord uses his or her bank accounts for the business and reports business income and loss on schedule C of his or her federal tax return. A judgment creditor can reach the landlord's personal assets, including the landlord's house, to satisfy a judgment. However, it is important to note that there are several exceptions, but that a detailed discussion of the law regarding the creditor – debtor relationship is beyond the scope of this blog post.

By contrast, a landlord who forms a limited liability company is shielded from personal liability for the acts of the corporation, unless the corporation is the landlord's "alter ego." Business income and loss is still reported on schedule C of the landlord's federal tax return, just as if the landlord were operating a sole proprietorship. If there is more than one person involved, those persons can be made members of the limited liability company.

To prove the existence of an "alter ego," a person who sues the landlord would have to prove that the corporation was merely the "alter ego"– and indistinguishable from – the individual landlord.  However, a plaintiff may be able to prove the existence of an "alter ego" if the landlord and the corporation share bank accounts, do not maintain corporate records, and otherwise do not take any steps to separate the finances of the corporation from the finances of the landlord. For this reason, I recommend that any landlord who forms a limited liability company take steps to separate the corporation from their personal life.

The chief benefit of forming a limited liability company is the protection from personal liability.  In other words, a judgment creditor cannot reach the assets of the individual owner, unless the judgment creditor proves the existence of an "alter ego."

However, owning a limited liability company comes with certain responsibilities. The landlord has to file an annual renewal every year with the secretary of state. Moreover, any major decisions, such as the purchase of a new building, furnace, or other equipment, need to be recorded in writing.  In addition, the landlord has to pay a fee to incorporate as a limited liability company.

A landlord who has incorporated as a limited liability company cannot represent himself or herself in District Court, even in an eviction. Rather, the landlord must be represented by an attorney. It is important to note that an officer of the landlord may represent a landlord in conciliation court, but a corporate landlord must be represented by an attorney in District Court.

Given the advantages associated with forming a limited liability company, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where a landlord would not form a limited liability company. However, there are other corporate entities available to a landlord who wishes to incorporate, such as an S Corp. Still, I tend to think that a limited liability company is most appropriate for most people, unless there is a good reason for not forming a limited liability company.

Your needs and whether a limited liability company is right for you depends on your specific situation. You should seek the advice of an attorney before taking action based on this blog post.  To that end, I invite landlords to give me a call at 763-450-9494 to discuss their unique situation. I do not typically represent individual tenants, although I will represent corporate tenants on a case-by-case basis.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota.  Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.