You already had your first appearance or your trial in your eviction action and now you have a court order (or a breached settlement agreement) that allows you to obtain a Writ of Recovery. The tenants are still occupying the property and you want them out. From both a practical and a legal perspective, the best course is to move quickly – but consistent with the law – to have the tenants and their personal property removed from your property. There are a number of post-writ steps to be completed. In the meantime, throughout the process, you should keep an eye on the property to ensure that the tenants are not damaging it or removing anything that must remain with the property.
To finish the eviction of the tenants, the following steps must be completed:
- Obtain the writ from the Court Administrator by making the proper request and paying the fee.
The writ expires thirty days after issuance. For this reason, given the steps that must occur before its expiration, it is best to move forward as quickly as the law allows.
- Request that the Sheriff serve the writ by delivering it to the Sheriff’s Office and paying the fee.
- If the tenants do not move out within 24 hours after service of the writ, request that the Sheriff enforce the writ with a forcible removal.
- Notify the tenants by mail and by telephone of the scheduled date and time for the forcible removal.
- When the Sheriff enforces the writ, make an inventory of all personal property remaining in the property.
- Request that the Sheriff sign and date the inventory when complete.
- Mail a copy of the inventory to the tenants at their last known address or to an address they provided.
- Store the tenants’ personal property, exercising care not to damage it, to avoid liability in damages to the tenants.
If the tenants’ personal property will be stored off-site:
- Pay the costs for the removal, caring for, transporting, and storage of the personal property. Make a demand for payment of those costs.
- If the tenants fail to pay within the statutory deadline, you have a lien for the costs and the personal property can be sold at a public sale after proper advance notice of the sale.
If the tenants’ personal property will be stored on site:
- If the tenants make a demand for the property, allow them to remove it.
- If the tenants fail to remove their property within the statutory deadline, it can be sold at a public sale after proper advance notice of the sale.
- Within three weeks after the tenants are removed, (a) return the damage deposit; or (b) provide a written statement of the reasons for withholding any portion of it.
Minnesota law is written with numerous procedural and substantive protections of tenants built into the eviction process. You must ensure that you comply with the law at each step. If you fail to do so, you will incur liability to the tenants, sometimes in amounts far greater than the actual losses tenants sustain. The best way to avoid liability to and post-occupancy litigation with tenants is not only to fulfill the legal requirements of landlords, but also to document your satisfaction of those requirements.