With winter quickly approaching, it is the time of year when I begin to receive calls from landlords and tenants alike asking, “Can I evict my tenant, or be evicted by my landlord, during the winter?” While many callers think the answer is no, they are mistaken; a landlord can terminate a tenancy and evict a tenant during cold weather months. While I am unsure of the origin of this particular misconception about housing law, it is one of my most frequently asked questions. I can only assume the misconception is born in two distinct statutes.
One statute which likely drives the misconception is the Minnesota Cold Weather Rules found at Minnesota Statutes §§ 216B.096 and 216B.097. Under these statutes, a utility company cannot turn off your utilities from October 15th to April 15th if you apply for, qualify, make, and keep a payment plan with them. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has a helpful article here, which outlines the basics of the Cold Weather Rule as it pertains to utilities.
The other statute affecting landlords and tenants is found at § 504B.155. This statute explains that between November 15th and April 15th, if a tenant moves, vacates or abandons a premises that contains plumbing subject to freezing, the tenant must give the landlord a three-day notice of the intent to leave. A tenant who leaves without informing the landlord is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Again, there is no statute protecting tenants from eviction over the cold weather months. However, a landlord must follow the requirements set forth under Minnesota Statute § 504B before proceeding with an eviction.
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