If you are a tenant and are a victim of domestic abuse, criminal sexual conduct, or harassment, you may be able to be released from your lease without penalty.
Who is protected under this housing law? What protections does this law offer?
You may be protected under this housing law if:
1) you are the victim of:
- domestic abuse;
- criminal sexual conduct in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th degrees; or
- harassment; and
2) you fear immediate violence against you or another tenant or authorized occupant.1
If you are a person protected under this law, you (the tenant) may be able to end your lease before it expires if you fear immediate violence against you or another tenant or authorized occupant. Additionally, you will no longer have to pay your rent or any other charges for the rest of the lease period.2 However, you are responsible for the rent payment for the full month that you end your lease.3
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(a)
2 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(a)
3 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(3)(b)
If I get my lease terminated, how will this affect my roommates?
If you have any co-tenants and you end your lease, the lease agreement also ends for the co-tenants. You and any other tenants will have to pay rent for the full month that you end your lease. Additionally, you and the other tenants give up your right to have the security deposit returned. You and your co-tenants will no longer have any responsibility to pay rent or any other charges for the rest of the lease period. The other tenant(s) have the option of reapplying to start a new lease with the landlord.1
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(3)(b)
Breaking a lease
What documents or proof do I need to give to my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim?
To break your lease, you must give your landlord certain documents. You will need to give your landlord:
- written notice that is signed and dated that states you are ending your lease; and
- a qualifying document that proves that you are a victim of abuse.1 See What is considered a “qualifying document”? for more information.
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(b)
What information do I need to include in my written notice to the landlord?
Your written notice should state:
- that you “fear imminent violence” from the abuser against you or another authorized occupant if you stay in the home;
- you need to end your lease;
- the date that you will leave your housing; and
- written instructions for what to do with any personal property that remains in your housing.1
Your written notice must be given to the landlord before the date you plan to end your lease agreement. The notice can be delivered by mail, fax, or in person and you must also provide your landlord with your qualifying documentation of abuse.2
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(b)
2 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(c)
What is considered a “qualifying document”?
You must provide your landlord with a qualifying document that shows that you are eligible for protection under this law.1 A qualifying document is a(n):
- order for protection;
- no contact order;
- writing produced and signed by a court official or law enforcement official acting in their official capacity that documents that you are a victim of domestic abuse, criminal sexual conduct, or harassment and that includes the name of the abuser if it is known; or
- statement by a qualified third party.2
Note: The qualified third party who is submitting a statement on your behalf can find a sample statement in the law in section 504B.206(6)(3).
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(1)(c)
2 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(6)(3)
Who is a “qualified third party”?
A qualified third party can be a:
- licensed health care professional operating within the scope of the license;
- domestic abuse advocate as defined in the law; or
- sexual assault counselor as defined in the law.1
The qualified third party must have been acting in his/her official capacity and have had in person contact with you.
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206
Once I notify my landlord that I want to end my lease, do I still have to pay my rent? Will I get my security deposit back?
When you end your lease, you will no longer have to pay your rent or any other charges for the rest of the lease period. However, you are responsible for paying full rent for the month that you end your lease. Ending your lease does not end your responsibility to pay the landlord for any unpaid rent or money owed before your lease ended. You also give up your right to have your security deposit returned. 1
1 Minn. Stat. § 504B.206(3)(c)