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Maverick, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 6421
Experience:  20 years experience as a civil trial and appellate lawyer
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1. Jurisdiction is MN, Hennepin County. 2. Ideally this

Customer Question

1. Jurisdiction is MN, Hennepin County.
2. Ideally this would be answered by someone I can hire if necessary, but any qualified guidance is appreciated.
3. While the points below are numerous, hopefully they're straight forward enough that a TL-versed atty can rapidly tell how each item should be handled and by who (police, lawsuit, etc.)
4. Note that I've never been provided with a (legal) notice to vacate, and no UD action has been filed against me. Opponent's main rationale is that I was supposedly late on rent.
5. I rent a private locked room in a duplex, shared with two others.
6. The owner collects rent in person every 6-8 weeks.
7. While I was away, my roommate broke in to my room, moved the bulk of my things to the garage, and left the garage wide open - exposing them to cold weather, potential walk-by theft, and damage (by pre-existing rodent infestation.)
8. The police witnessed my property in the open garage. I asked them to press charges, asserting that it was a prima facie break-in since my room was locked, that my property had clearly been handled/stored negligently, etc. They said it was a civil matter, and did nothing.
9. The roommate claims she talked to police HQ before taking action and that they endorsed it! To my horror, I found that she was probably telling the truth: When I spoke to police HQ myself, I discovered that they are quite ignorant RE housing law, believing that the roommate was justified and that all of the issues are strictly civil. They don't even know that valid leases can be oral.
10. Later in the month, the owner informed me that I had a week to collect my property because someone else would be moving in to my room.
11. Once I returned, I found my room empty except for my bed - which was clearly being used by someone else - and said stranger's clothes. My own locking doorset had been replaced. Per MN statute, a misdemeanor lockout had occurred.
12. I seem to have two landlords, by way of their assertions/actions... The owner recently started claiming that I sublease from the roommate (she's apparently on some written lease.) However I pay rent directly to the owner, who's never provided me with a copy of any written lease, and therefore I'm not bound by it. (Again per MN statute.) Given these facts, it seems clear that at least my own room is a discrete rental unit, and that I'm the owner's direct tenant by way of oral lease - not some roommate's subtenant.
13. Regardless, all actions taken against me were illegal, as they all required a court order, which was never obtained.
14. What property I've been able to recover so far includes significant damage.
15. Several of my more expensive items are missing, and likely stolen.
16. My privacy has been utterly invaded, in numerous ways.
17. The roommate has prior convictions for theft, fraud, et al, and is currently on probation.
18. I've suffered incredible emotional distress during the time that certain irreplaceable things of mine were in doubt of recovery; and also due to privileged/sensitive information of mine being in the hands of a career criminal.
19. The duplex has supposedly been sold, and is soon changing hands, but I have no proof of that.
20. There is remaining property I need to collect.
21. I'd like criminal charges brought against the owner and roommate. I'd also like to sue them, and the city (police.)
Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

Welcome to Just Answer (“JA”)! My name is Maverick. Please note that:

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Answer will follow in the pane below as per above parameters….

1. As to bringing criminal charges against the LL or the roommate, you best bet is to file a formal police report or go talk to the district attorney's office. While it appears that you have legal grounds to file the complaints, my experience has been that the police always say this is a "civil matter" and the DA will tell you that they are not interested in prosecuting such offenses as their budget is reserved for murders, rapes, arson, etc...

more to come...

Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

2. As to suing the police/city, the State of Minnesota, counties, towns, municipalities and schools are immune from (entitled to dismissal of) various types of claims. Minnesota statute sections 3.736 and 466.03 provided an itemized list of claims from which governmental entities are immune. In addition, case law recognizes several immunity defenses, not otherwise provided for in statute.

State agencies and municipalities are immune from tort claims challenging a discretionary decision, act or failure to act. Minn. Stat. §§3.736, 466.03, subd. 6. In order to be entitled to immunity under this statutory provision, the governmental entity must demonstrate that the challenged act or omission arose out of a “planning-level” or “policy-making” decision. Zank v. Larson, 552 N.W.2d 719 (Minn. 1996). Planning-level or policy-making decisions are those decisions that involve the balancing of public policy objectives, including social, economic, financial, and political factors.

For example, the government is immune from suit for a particular response to, and investigation of, a complaint of sexual misconduct. Doe v. Park Center High School, 592 N.W.2d 131 (Minn. App. 1999).

more to come...

Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.

3. Your best bet is to sue the roommate and/or owner for an illegal eviction. “Self-help” evictions, including the changing the locks, are illegal and serve as grounds for a tenant to sue a landlord for damages and a tenant’s court costs and attorney fees. See Minn. Stat. § 504B.375.

Since your fees may be covered, I would suggest that you contact a local LL-T lawyer to assist you so you do not lose your case on a technicality.