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Landlords sue to force end to Minnesota eviction moratorium

ST. PAUL — A group representing Minnesota landlords announced a lawsuit Tuesday to force an end to the eviction moratorium imposed by Gov. Tim Walz, saying his order makes it all but impossible for property owners to remove disruptive tenants.

The Minnesota Multi Housing Association says the governor’s executive order, which was issued in the early days of the pandemic, has become unworkable as it was originally written and is no longer needed.

“Over the past year it has become clear that property owners are expected to wait until there is evidence that a person has become so dangerous that other residents have to call the police or move out, or that the rental unit is completely destroyed,” according to the complaint, which was filed in federal court Monday.

The association’s CEO, Cecil Smith, told reporters at the Capitol that the lawsuit had been in the works long before legislative leaders agreed Monday to a 15-week “off-ramp” for ending the eviction moratorium. The negotiators said the bipartisan agreement offers strong protections for renters and clear timelines for Minnesotans who owe back rent to secure rental assistance, which is paid directly to landlords.

Landlords would be required to send notices to tenants who are behind on their rent 15 days prior to eviction. Tenants who have claimed but not yet received state rental assistance would be protected from eviction through June 1, 2022.

Smith said he had not seen actual bill language, but that his group wants the regulations lifted now.