Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that his office has filed a new lawsuit to protect a tenant from eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Attorney General’s Office has sued Ramsey County landlords Venkata Ram Paleti and Minnesota Realty Group, LLC for refusing to stop trying to terminate the lease of a tenant in Roseville and requiring the tenant to vacate his home tomorrow, April 30, despite the tenant’s inability to find alternative housing where he can safely shelter during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The tenant has asked the landlord for more time to find a new home in the current tight rental market, but the landlord has refused to grant his request.
When the Attorney General’s Office informed the Defendants that their conduct violated Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-14, which suspends lease-termination actions during the peacetime emergency, they refused to comply and suggested the Attorney General’s Office file a lawsuit if it wished to restrain their conduct.
This is the fourth enforcement action that Attorney General Ellison has brought to protect tenants from eviction or forced removal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Attorney General’s Office is seeking emergency relief from the Court to prevent the landlord from interfering with the tenant’s continued residency during the peacetime emergency.
“Forcing someone to vacate their home during the peacetime emergency is illegal in almost all cases. Forcing someone out when the landlord knows their tenant has nowhere else to go during the pandemic is cruel,” said Attorney General Ellison. “By protecting tenants’ ability to shelter safely in place during the pandemic, Governor Walz’s order protects the health of everyone. My office will keep acting swiftly to enforce the order and protect tenants’ and all Minnesotans’ safety and wellbeing.”
Under Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order 20-14, property owners are prohibited from terminating residential leases for the duration of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency. Attorney General Ellison’s office has the authority to enforce this Executive Order. In his enforcement action, the Attorney General is seeking permanent injunctive relief, civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation, restitution for the residents, and the Office’s costs and fees.
Attorney General Ellison encourages Minnesotans to report suspected violations of Executive Order 20-14, which suspends evictions and notices-to-vacate during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency, by filling out the dedicated Tenant Eviction Complaint Form available on the Attorney General’s website.