Evictions rise as state COVID protections begin to lift

Published 5:33 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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ST. PAUL — Rental evictions are rising in Minnesota as state protections adopted because of COVID-19 are beginning to lift, according to housing experts.

As of last week, a 15-day notice is no longer required before an eviction notice is filed over delinquent rent. Lease terminations can also occur more easily.

For some, a pending application for financial aid through RentHelpMN can be a lifeline. The program distributes federal money aimed at preventing pandemic-related problems.

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To date, nearly 50,000 applications have come in through RentHelpMN for assistance tied to past-due rent or utilities. About $144 million has been distributed with many more requests pending, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

Elizabeth Sauer, managing attorney for Central Minnesota Legal Services, said some renters have bought more time by tapping into available aid, but what lies ahead worries her.

“There’s a lot of people who are in this circumstance. We could have a whole bunch of landlords who just decide they are not going to continue to rent to these tenants who have struggled to pay their rent during the pandemic,” she said.

Lea Robertson, a a policy attorney with Minnesota Housing, said even though there have been efforts to raise awareness, people are still getting familiar with the rental assistance program.

“We regularly have people who didn’t know about it who are now getting applications in that may otherwise have not had them in,” Robertson said, adding, “so us being there and saying ‘Nope, you could get your back rent paid’ is a vital link to getting people stably housed.”