Unlawful Removal of a Tenant – Locking a Tenant Out or Shutting Off Utilities

Under Minnesota Statutes §§ 504B.225 and 609.606, a landlord, agent of a landlord, or person working under the control of the landlord cannot unlawfully remove or exclude a tenant. A landlord who is guilty of such an act is guilty of a misdemeanor. If a tenant calls the police, the landlord may be arrested for committing misdemeanor lockout. There are two major ways that a landlord can unlawfully exclude the tenant.

  • First, a landlord who unlawfully enters rental property to change the locks and lock out the tenant has excluded the tenant.
  • Second, when a landlord unlawfully enters the rental property to turn off the utilities (electric, heat, gas, or water services) it is presumed that he did so to remove or exclude the tenant.

If a landlord wants the tenant out of the rental property, the landlord must go through the eviction proceedings in court, the landlord cannot do it alone by locking out or shutting off the utilities of the tenant in the hopes that the tenant leaves.

Consequences to Unlawfully Removing a Tenant

Lock Tenant Out

When a landlord unlawfully tries to remove or exclude the tenant, the tenant is entitled to recover damages. The tenant may recover treble damages or $500, whichever is greater. Minn. Stat. § 504B.231.

Treble damages are damages that are three times the amount of actual damages that the court determines is owed to the tenant. Alternatively, the tenant can decide to take action in Housing Court in order to get an order from the court to recover possession of his or her rental property. Minn. Stat. § 504B.375.

The tenant must file a petition to the district court that includes the following: description of premises and landlord, statement of the facts and grounds that show that exclusion or removal was unlawful, and a request for possession. If the situation appears obvious that the exclusion or removal was unlawful, the court will immediately order the tenant to regain possession of the property.

Following the order, the tenant will be accompanied by an officer to the property in order to retake possession. A landlord does have the right to appeal the decision. Any order to regain possession and any decision on appeal is final.

Illegally Entering a Tenant’s Rental Property

A landlord must give a tenant “reasonable notice” (usually 24 hours) before entering the rental property for business purposes. Some examples of legitimate business reasons where a landlord must give notice include:

  • to conduct maintenance
  • for inspections
  • to show the apartment to a new tenant
  • etc.

A landlord may enter an apartment without notice in cases of emergency.
A landlord who unlawfully enters a tenant’s rental property may also be found guilty of burglary. Minnesota Statute § 609.582 defines and discusses the punishments for burglary. In general, burglary is committed when someone enters a building without consent and commits a crime. In this case, the crime is of unlawful exclusion or removal is a misdemeanor. Burglary in the fourth degree is when someone enters a building without consent and with the intent to commit a misdemeanor while in the building. If guilty of this crime, a landlord may be subject to imprisonment for no more than a year or a fine of no more than $3,000, or both.

In conclusion, a landlord is prohibited from unlawfully excluding or removing a tenant for his or her rental property. A landlord unlawfully does so when he or she unlawfully enters the property to change the locks to lock out the tenant or when he or she unlawfully enters the property to turn off the utilities with the intent to exclude or remove the tenant. A tenant who has experienced such treatment can sue the landlord for damages or may take action to regain possession of the property. Furthermore, a landlord may even be guilty of burglary for unlawfully entering the tenant’s rental property.



  1. Quickly…Commercial property in Douglas County.
    I am two months behind with rent. I told landlord thatI no longer need a retail store to keep some contracts which previously required it so. He says hsv your stuff out in three days. The forth he changed locks and said to contact him for access. I asked about after hours and he only said he won’t leave property open all night. I told him don’t have access to help or vehicles until after hours. He said I have what comes to an additional fifteen days after locks changed to get everything out or he’s selling it. I have personal belongings including articles of incorporation, children’s health information, customers equipment, tools and ten years of business records inside. I assume non of that different type of stuff matters I. I am not trying to be difficult. I just want my thirty days to move on my time. I am short on money so hiring people to move during the day is not an option.

    Is it legal to change locks and control access? I don’t really care about him controlling access. I assume this is him proving a point. But if this cost me money because I hire someone or he just takes my stuff then I do care. I also asked him after learning he is telling people that he is evicting me to stop doing that. I reminded him that I did give notice before he started an eviction process. We have a lease agreement however my copy is in the building and I have not been on it since the last week of January.

    Is this legal? Is there any time this is legal?I am late with rent and that is it. He does of course have a laundry list of things I have done wrong however when I asked him for examples he simply repeated that I contact him to enter the property.

    Please let me know what you think.

  2. Joe:

    Thank you for your message below. We would be happy to help you. As you know, each situation has its own complexities and there are many aspects to discuss to understand the details of your situation and advise you accurately. We have an experienced attorney here who would be happy to analyze your situation’s circumstances and advise you of your legal rights and options. This can generally be accomplished during a one-hour meeting (which can be by phone) at our normal rates. Is this in line with your expectations?


  3. Can a landlord deny a renewal of lease to a disabled veteran on a fixed income and no means to move, as well as jeopardize and compromise the health due to medical conditions?

  4. My boyfriend and I were on a 12 month lease until may 31st, 2013. We were automatically put on a month to month lease that requires a 2 month notice. We never personally received notice of the automatic month to month lease. I called and asked if the rent would be higher and they told me what our higher rent rate would be. I never signed a new month to month lease or a two month agreement. My boyfriend went to go put in our notice to move out on July 10th. He talked to the landlord and she said she would write something up as our notice to move out and have us sign it. She also said “oh and I need you to sign this two month agreement in order to put your notice in.” He signed it even though he was there trying to put in our notice to move out. However, the landlord never wrote anything up for us to sign as a notice. I called her back 9 days later and she pretended to not remember even meeting with him and said that our notice had to be written and not verbal. She never told him that when they met and only said she would write something up which she never did. She told me that if I get a notice in right away that it would start August 1st and that she could try and get a new tenant in for September and would start showing the apartment right away. I wrote a letter that same day and turned it in saying that we needed to be out by September 1st and that we discussed that she said she would put in a request to find a new tenant and show the apartment right away. I also mentioned that we did a verbal notice on July 10th but she failed to write up something for us to sign like she said she would so that this was our written notice on July 19th. After, I had done some research and realized that according to statute 504B.135 that we only needed to give one rental period of notice. If I am correct this means that the provisions of that were in our old 12 month lease and month to month lease (which we never received notice of or a copy of) saying that a 2 month notice is required would be invalid or void since it is violating the statute regardless if we signed.

  5. Now they are calling me saying that they found a tenant to put in our apartment but in order for them to release us I have to sign a two month agreement and a request to rent. I am willing to sign a request to rent no problem but I am not willing to sign a two month agreement when we already put our notice in stating we need to be out September 1st and it goes against what the statute is saying. I have no idea what to tell them.

  6. I have a friend of a friend’s that is renting my spare bedroom in my townhouse. Originally there were supposed to be two people moving in so when the amount of rent per month was agreed upon it was under the assumption there were going to be two people paying rent ($400 each). Only 1 person ended up moving in early, the other one backed out after the fact. I kept the rent at $400 for the 1 person that moved in, despite knowing with just the 1 person it wouldn’t be enough. It has now been 6 months that he’s lived in my home paying $400/month, however he did pay $450 the last month due to a verbal agreement that he would pay more for the time he wanted the A/C on and he demanded I have internet so I told him he should be paying for 1/2 of it. This month would be the 7th month he is in my home and I gave him a copy of the xcel bill and also charged him 1/2 of the internet bill. His response was that he was not paying it at all because the agreement was $400. Do I have the right to charge him for 1/2 of the xcel bill since he wanted the A/C on so much and he wanted internet? Originally there was no rental agreement printed out and signed by myself or by him stating the rent amount or any length of time he would be allowed to stay in my home so I’m confused on if I have the right to charge him the extra money (upon giving him a copy of the bill as proof that I’m charging him 1/2 of it). Since giving him the invoice (which I thought legally I should start doing every month) he wrote a response saying he will not pay (among other things) and if I don’t agree to a set rate of $425/month he will need to move out. I told him go right ahead and leave. Do I need to give him any sort of “legal” notice to get out of my home since he’s not going to pay for anything and he has yet to pay me rent for this month that’s due on the 1st of every month? What can I do legally to get him out asap without him turning around and threatening me in any way or bringing me to court for anything (he likes to take people to court for as little as $58.00 was the last amount he was ‘owed’ by someone and he brought them to court for that)… I want to do everything legally but I need him out asap, I do not want to have him in my home for 30 more days by giving him a 30 day notice which if he’s not paying to stay here he shouldn’t have 30 days. I’m just lost as to what I can do without having him slap a lawsuit on me for anything. Can you please help me?
    Thank you,

  7. My finance and I decided to move out of a trailer we were renting because the landlord kept raising rent, wanted (cash, wouldn’t give us receipts, and would not write a contract. We gave a 30 day notice, but he said id we wanted to leave sooner we cod. So we decided to be out within 5 days. We had 1 day left and decided we didn’t want to move anymore out that night, it was late and we have a 2 month old son, we came home to our landlord MOVING our things our because he wanted to clean. HE HAD PEOPLE MOVING IN AT 3pm THE NEXT DAY! What can we do? This isn’t right. He also won’t give our security deposit back because we left early.

  8. I have complained to my property manager several times that the neighbor is smoking marijuana on the premises and the smell seeps into my apartment. I have witnessed a group of people in his home, with below zero weather, sliding door open with a fan running to blow out the smell, which was obvious. Can I as a tenant file a police complaint and am I able to get out of my lease if my landlord refuses to deal with the illegal activity? the rent is high and I paid it assuming I would feel safe. That is not the case. Please help!

  9. my landlord has entered my apartment several times without any notice to show the place. i have asked him to send me an email or leave a note under my door at least 24 hrs beforehand. he has never respected my request. the last time he entered (with some stranger) i was sitting on the toilet naked…. he didn’t even apologies. i want some retribution for these disrespectful and embarrassing violations. is it worth fighting?

  10. 708 – 27th avenue south Minneapolis 55454

    Many code violations. Safety issues including a malfunctioning back security door. Fire doors and security doors propped open. Lack of storm windows. Problem tenants, tenants without keys for security doors. Illegal activity and problematic noise. Filthy hallways, broken windows, landlord in violation of tenant privacy rights.

  11. I live in California and I’m on section 8 Houseing, there is a tenet in my apartment building who has the land lord scared that he will sue them so whenever he want’s another tented out of the building he will tell the land lord lies about this tentit which is me and the land lord automaticly beleive’s him, then the landlord start’s sending me threating lettering letter’s saying they will evict me if this continue’s and yet I havn’t done anything wrong I’m 67 year’s old I have one arm and within the last 5 year’s had 3 stroke’s what can I do, this tenit that is causing these problem,s has told me he has a lot of guns so if anything happen’s that is major in this country he’s ready for it and this is the guy who is trying to get me out of the building, myself I’m a little scared that he might shoot me.
    I lived in this building for 19 years and never bothered anybody.

  12. My landlord turns off my electricity via the fusebox when I leave and turns it back on when I come home. I’m pretty sure it’s because he doesn’t want my baseboard heaters on because of electricity cost. I like to come home to a warm house. Utilities are included in the rent. Is he violating our lease agreement by doing this? I have had my computer on with something running and have come home to find the computer off and what I was working on lost. Besides coming home to a cold house, this is very annoying. Is there anything I can do?

  13. my landlord is actually my grandfather and with that said he an I had no written agreement nor did we have a verbal we had a ask your grandma and then a we don’t need anything just for you to have a place to stay. Need I mention I just came back hone from being gone after 8 years after the death of my husband and the first time living hers since I was 15 yrs old. 18 years. I am quite shocked that it is now the way it is. I will say things were good until the day my nephew got his feelings hurt when he threatened me with shooting me and running my kids over in the drive way I snapped and then wanted to kick his butt. The thing is I was not ok with this. Now since I scared the baby they love so much I get treated like crap. I have a propane heating and a dirt whole 15 feet behind my house that is what they consider a septic tank minus the tank it’s just the whole. Well it smells the whole house I dealt without a refrigerator for a year and my celling fell in in may of 2014 and only got repaired because my brother in law came over in October to fix it for me. The meter for my electricity is not just my bill I also has the shop and apartment and farm light along with water well house on my pole and the bill is 365.00 a month. Now I have to pay this all year long. No company and no leaving the house past 9 pm and the lock a gate we don’t have any WA of unlocking and call the cops when a guest comes by. Who has the right to do this? And what right do I have I want to know what can I do to prevent the next person from being sucked in and treated like crap

  14. My landlord has cameras in the hallways that I wasn’t aware of. I understand that they are for my safety. However he allows other tenants to view these films for petty reasons like… What time did my wife come home or was it the neighbor’s kid who knocked on old man Smith’s and ran away. He also allowed someone to view my coming and goings, which made it easier for this man to ‘just happen’ to arrive home the same time as me and many similar scenarios. Filming is legal but there needs to be limits for a tenants protection.

  15. So I live with my girlfriend in her parents’ house and we are sub renting a small room in the house for $300 a month, or $75 per week. Of course this has been a very tense and awkward situation. A few nights ago I had picked up my paycheck from work and gave her dad (the sub landlord) $100 for the week, then left for work. About two hours later I get a call at work from my girlfriend saying she had just gotten in a huge arguement with her mom, who I imagine was drunk at the time. Her parents were out in the living room fighting and she politely asked them if she could close the door for privacy. This woman has a short fuse to begin with, but being in her drunken state, she went of screaming at her and shortly after that, ordered her dad to remove our bedroom door. It has been off for three days now and we have no privacy and find it very difficult to sleep. I am under the impression that as long as I am paying my rent in full and on time that they have no right to remove our bedroom door for any petty reason but I want to make sure I’m right about this before I call them out on it. Are they wrong to have removed our door?

  16. I have rented a house for the last 4 yrs. Ive been late on my rent about 4 times but ive always caught up and ive always notified the landlord that the rent would be late. My lease is up at the end of July. They have told me that they have sold the house and they will pay me $200 to leave a month early. The house was never on the market. Now I found out that they are really going to be renting to some other people but continue to say they sold it. I am on disability and have been for the last 5 yrs and will not be getting off of it. I cant seem to find a place to live as most all places want you to make at least two or three times the rent every month. I don’t even come close to that. Does the landlord have the right to do this and do they have to show proof of the closing date?

  17. A manager or landlord cannot turn off your electric to try to make u leave. But in glendale arizona eviction court is in surprise and other matters r in glendale.

  18. Can your apartment manager or landlord charge you a fee to come and unlock your door if you get locked out.

    This happened on a Friday, evening at about 6:45 PM. Is this legal, or not!

  19. I have a food business, my landlord is trying to evict us claiming the business is not cleaned properly. We do keep a clean shop and are up to date on our inspections. However, he came in after a large catering event and snapped pictures of the mess that was made while preparing the food and now is using them as grounds to evict us. We think he wants the business for his own use as his child told a family friend that her dad was going to open a bakery in the location we use. He did not give notice when he came in to snap the pictures but I believe in Pa he doesn’t have too. Any suggestions on how we can fight this?

  20. I recently found out that while in between jobs my landlord was discussing the fact that I fell behind on rent with random people in my town. She gave them my name during conversation to the point I had people coming up to me and asking about it. My question is is this legal for her to do?

  21. My parents had rented a townhome back in 1992. At the time i was a minor therefore was not added to the rental agreement. I never moved out and as of July 2011 and January 2012 both my parents passed away. I had asked the landlord if I may continue to live in the home and pay the same amount of rent my parents were paying. He indicated he had no problems with that and would draw up a new agreement between us. I never received a new agreement and had asked him twice about it. Since my parents passing he has raised the rent 3-4 times in the last 4 years. However, when my parents were alive he raised the rent only 4 times in 20 years. Is this legal for him to do to me? And considering there is no agreement between him and I what are my rights and responsibilities as well as his?

  22. I told my land lord I was giving a months notic e same day he brought tenants to view.then a few days later he was phoneing and intimidating me .then his girlfriend comes carrying on with verbal abuse.and the land lord wasent aware my tenancy had ended till I was the one that put the point across then a few days later came back to property and barged through door kicking me out and still verbal abusing me.is there any thing I can do about it please

  23. The manager at my apartment complex told me that my brother is not allowed to receive mail or have any packages sent to my address because he is not on the lease. He changed his mailing address to my address when he went overseas for military duties. The manger of my apartment comes even had the mailman remove his name from the mailbox and told him that my brother is not allowed to have mail sent to my address. Can they do that? Is that legal? What are my and my brother’s rights?

  24. My daughter signed a one year lease in Minneapolis. She originally listed only herself as a resident on the lease. Since that time, she and her boyfriend decided to live together and he moved in. Her landlord says he cannot live there because he is not listed as a resident. The landlord refuses to allow her boyfriend to be added to the lease despite the fact that he has a very good job, has lived in the area for years and has no criminal record. Can the landlord deny her the right to have her boyfriend live in her apartment? The landlord also refuses to let her out of the lease. Is this reasonable and lawful?

  25. i want to say thank you to the source of my happiness Dr.Lawrence I want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to Dr.Lawrence for casting a love spell that brought back my ex boyfriend in two days what will i have done if not for you DR PAUL am really grateful for all your help once again thank you very much email [email protected] com

  26. Is it legal for my boyfriends name to be on my eviction and show up on my eviction if he was not on my lease agreement and was never a legal tenant? This is keeping us from being able to rent and we are now homeless with my 2 young children.

  27. My husband I and my six children have been illegally locked out of our rental property n water was turned off in order to posses property….No eviction filed. Landlord entered home without our consent n changed locks.Rent up to date n they failed to pay water bill that was included in rent.If u can help me please call asap 330 942 4968 Thanku

  28. I have a problem were I live their like 5 house like apartment the man in the bottom smokes a lot everything whose to my house and I have a 5yrs old And a 1 yrs old so I ask the landlord if she can tell him anything she said no that I have to deal with that

  29. My former landlord is trying to weasel another months rent from me. I’ve been a great tenant for 16 months, I’ve dealt with drug busts, Ex boyfriend drama due to the landlord renting to him after I asked him not to, water issues that cost me money, etc. and now that I’ve moved, he is harassing me for another month rent. I gave him 30 day notice from when I’ve paid rent every month for 16 months and he’s refusing the notice because he said it had to be the 1st. He says I can’t turn off utilities until another renter is in there, he is well known for not giving anyone their deposits back, and I need legal advice. I’m a single mom with 3 kids and I’ve never missed rent or been late for 16 months yet he’s treating me this way. Please help

  30. I has question. I dont know about California Law Tentant Right. So i just curious about Landlord Issue. I wonder is that LAW ALLOW about His Father is landlord owner rent home and HIS son Agent? He didnt tell me about this. His father just landlord contract my rental. he never tell me about his son agent since 1 yrs until now. i found out that son take over control without i know it. we never get agreement with his son agent. i dont has his contract name on it only his father. I pay him rent and he refused. he want double i say ok and few days later, he give me 3 days pay or quit? i feel like excuse me? later 3 days pass then he decide 3X rent without Former Letter rental Agreement. I dont understand why cost me more extra without former letter? sound like illegal?

    Father is Landlord Owner Property
    Son was Agent without i know it?

  31. I have a question about the Landlord do he got the right to keep my deposit if anything is not wrong with his apartment if you got a section 8 giving you permission to move do he still havethe rights to keep my deposit

  32. can my landlord restrict my guest from visiting me and have the security gaurds tow any car that is parked on my drivway

  33. My land lord gave ten minets notice and then brought two women into my apartment showed it to them while I was sleeping then open my bedroom door and showed then it I was in the bed naked sleeping he knew I was in there and told my room mate he did not care I work night shift

  34. I have moved in with a friend with no rent obligation but to clean the place up.ive been here six weeks and he is mean,disrespectful and abusing drugs.i told his sister who owns the home and now he wants me to leave immediately,can he do this?

  35. So I hear all this crap about renters rights what about landlord rights and squaters. My Tennant’s have been late with rent from day one and are currently behind I am now in court proceedings to get them out. What rights do I have.

  36. The house I’ve been living in for the 3 years failed its last inspection. One of the items was the screen door needed to be repaired or replaced, so my landlord decided to remove it and that’s how she decided to fix the problem. Is that even legal to do? Please help exhaust tenant!

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  43. I h as ve been staying with my brother for two months now…I came home from work and it looked like someone broke into the house..a lot of my things were stolen. .one week later I find my things..my brother took them..he lie f to the sheriff..I want to move out.. but he will not let me move my thing out what should I do..hee will not let me have my stuff..I moved from Florida rented my home to a f rt I end because my brother had back surgery. .now look what I’m going through

  44. My landlord is harassing me and now making up false Claims to get me kicked out after I ask about the claims and let it be known i felt harassed

  45. I moved out of my house 3 days ago and have not been able to get my mail transferred to my new address. Is it illegal for the landlady to lock my mailbox up where I cannot get my mail

  46. iam a tenant in Bakersfield ca my manger told the mail man I was evicted .my mail was stopped also manger changed my mail box locks.

  47. Hello,
    I am in New Jersey, but we also have a statue for illegal lockout and unlawful detainer. I am seeking a lawyer or just a confirmation of the stature, but I can’t find anyone in New Jersey. Can you recommend any firms that handle tenants at will (with a written agreement ( that are actually locked out by landlord with no notice – and the police allow it ! It’s clearly ridiculous but the person is a female and she is being targeted.

    Thank you!

    Or would you recommend calling the court- we just need to have the police and town confirm they will actually assault or arrest or aid a landlord in an illegal lockout. Additionally the police include allowing the landlord to take possession of every item item the person owns/ all possessions. They end any tenancy rights,

    [email protected]


  48. Do landlord laws apply when someone is renting a room in your house? How long after they move out can they bring any type of complaint. I’m no longer helping friends !

  49. If a landlord is arrested on felony drug charges do the tenants have to continue to pay rent while he is incarcerated.

  50. I pray that someone out there can help my landlord is hispanic female she has been living in mexico the past 4 yrs or so ! Now the real owner had passed away about a yr ago come to find he had married the hispanic woman some 4yrs ago for her to gain citizenship into US so she has become my landlord I agreed to a month to month rental $600.oo cash was paid but refused to give receipt then filed no payment claim to get me evicted to do a quick sell on property ,now refuses to allow me to regain possession of my possessions that I was forced to leave behind what can I do about this scenerio

  51. Can a tenant change the locks without notifying the landlord..there is no written lease thry just recently moved in and switched the locks and left town without signing thd documents snd can text messages be used in an agreement ??do we file a 30 day eviction process or a 7 day if non pay first ?

  52. Can landlord tell a tenant that they may not call the police and it’s in the lease not too even if tenant was being harmed ?

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