A lease or rental agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your landlord. Just as you expect your landlord to provide you with housing for the duration of the lease, your landlord is counting on your rent payments for this period of time. In some cases, you may need to move due to personal circumstances, or you may feel forced to move due to a landlord's neglect. Minnesota law does provide for some leeway in terminating a lease under specific circumstances.
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Minnesota Lease Termination by Tenant
You should first determine if you have grounds to break the lease. If you or your children have reason to fear domestic violence or abuse, you may be able to terminate your lease by giving your landlord written notice and paying both the current month's rent as well as an additional amount of money equal to one month's rent.
Property Is Uninhabitable
If your landlord has violated the terms of your lease or has not met her legal responsibilities as a landlord, and you have made good faith efforts to get the landlord to do so, you may be able to move out without further obligation to your landlord. Minnesota law allows tenants to defend themselves from eviction proceedings or a lawsuit for back rent by arguing that the property was uninhabitable.
The danger in this is that your landlord may be able to convince the judge that she did not neglect her duties, and you could end up not only having to pay back rent and court fees but with a judgment or an eviction on your credit report. In this situation, it is a good idea to speak to a lawyer to make sure that you are doing the right thing.
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Use of Constructive Eviction
A constructive eviction occurs when a landlord does something to a tenant to attempt to make the tenant move out of a rental unit instead of issuing an eviction notice. Constructive eviction can also involve the landlord failing to perform duties it is legally obligated to complete for the same reason.
For example, if a landlord turns off a tenant's water, electricity, heat, or gas, it is considered a constructive eviction. These types of actions are illegal under Minnesota law.
Domestic Abuse Victim
A tenant who is being physically abused, sexually abused, or harassed has the right to end their lease early. The tenant can end the lease if they feel they are at risk of imminent violence. The tenant must advise their landlord in writing they intend to end their lease and the date they will be moving out. The tenant must also tell the landlord the name of the perpetrator to protect other tenants in the building.
The landlord is required to keep any information the tenant provides about their new address or the fact the tenant is a victim of violence absolutely confidential.
Starting Military Duty
A tenant can legally end a lease if the tenant enters military service or is a serving member of the military and receives orders that they are being deployed. The legal right to end a lease early also extends to the service member's dependents, which means the landlord cannot insist that the spouse or children remain in the unit or continue paying rent.
Breaking a Lease
You'll need to read over your lease. It may include a "break lease" clause that lets you break your lease by paying your landlord a fee. Even if you have other grounds to break your lease, this may be the simplest and cheapest way to terminate your tenancy.
If you don't have a break lease option, check to see if your lease allows you to sublet your home. The landlord would need to approve the new tenant taking over your home, or you will still be responsible for the rent owing on the unit until the end of the lease.
Read More: Can Landlord Refuse to Let Us Sublet Our Apartment?
- Give your landlord as much advance warning as possible. This demonstrates respect for your landlord and gives your landlord some breathing room. If your landlord doesn't feel pressured to find a new tenant immediately, she may be more agreeable to letting you out of the lease.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.