Oct 11, 2021 - News

More evictions ahead for Minnesotans behind on rent

Illustration of a cardboard moving box with the facade of a house drawn on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Another wave of Minnesotans who are behind on their rent could face evictions this week.

What's happening: Starting Tuesday, property owners can end leases for any legal reason and file to evict tenants who are behind on rent but haven't applied to the state's rent assistance program.

  • Landlords are required to give 15-day notice.

Why it matters: Evictions destabilize families and have financial repercussions that make it difficult to rent in the future.

  • Landlords, meanwhile, argued this summer that the ongoing protections were putting them in a tough spot, especially when it came to evicting problematic tenants.

The big picture: The change is one of the last steps of an "off-ramp" lawmakers crafted to wind down a state moratorium on evictions enacted during the pandemic.

  • Under the law, tenants with pending rental assistance applications cannot be evicted for nonpayment until June 1, 2022, when all protections are lifted.

Yes, but: The slow distribution of the $672 million in federal rental assistance funds is frustrating renters and landlords.

  • As of Oct. 7, the state had sent payments for about 30% of the roughly 49,000 applications for assistance via the RentHelpMN program, to the tune of $120 million.

Zoom in: An estimated 50,000 Minnesota households — about 8% of the state's renters — are behind on their payments, per the nonprofit PolicyLink's Rent Debt dashboard.

  • Most are low-income and about 40% are unemployed. Half have children.
  • The vast majority —close to 90% — have not applied for assistance or are still waiting for a response.

What's next: State housing officials say they've taken steps to speed up the process of vetting rental assistance applications, per The Minnesota Reformer.


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