Minnesota landlord says the state ‘stole’ her property during eviction moratorium

She is now hesitant and "nervous" to keep her rental property after getting no help from the state during the disaster she had to deal with.

Kearney's rental property before it was damaged by tenants who refused to pay rent. (Photo provided to Alpha News)

A Minnesota landlord recently spoke out about the tens of thousands of dollars she lost due to the governor’s eviction moratorium during COVID-19.

In a recent interview with Alpha News, landlord Shannon Kearney said she felt like the state “stole” her property.

“They stole my property for a period of time and there was no end in sight, there was no resolution, there was no communication,” Kearney said.

Kearney, a single mother, was working two jobs in order to pay for her rental property; her end goal was for the rental to supplement her income so she wouldn’t need to work two jobs to provide for her family.

She owned a rental home that she had made renovations to, including new carpet and paint. In August of 2019, she allowed some tenants to move in who weren’t qualified, but who she felt “deserved a second chance.” She lowered the rent for them and worked with them to make it affordable.

However, in November of 2019, the tenants stopped paying rent. They were scheduled to be evicted in April of 2020.

“But then March of 2020 happened, and that came to a halt,” Kearney said. Gov. Tim Walz announced a statewide eviction moratorium in March 2020.

Kearney understood “taking a break” to figure things out when the pandemic started, but “it went on for far too long,” she said.

The federal eviction moratorium ended in August 2021, but Gov. Walz and the Legislature approved an off-ramp process in Minnesota which still protected some tenants until June 2022. Tenants who had pending federal rental aid applications could not legally be evicted before this month.

“Thirty, sixty, ninety days [go by], and I’m reaching out to the governor, asking what I do as a landlord whose utilities are racking up, and these tenants haven’t been paying since November of 2019, and I get no response,” said Kearney, who had been paying her tenants’ utilities.

Kearney sent her tenants rental aid resources and encouraged them to apply, but they never did, so she had to evict them.

She served them the eviction notice for October 2020, but they did not leave. On the day they agreed to move out, Kearney took a Dakota County sheriff with her, and they discovered that the tenants had not packed anything.

Kearney then had to go through court proceedings to evict them, she said, and the tenants did not move out until February 2021, leaving a wrecked home in their wake: shattered windows, destroyed carpet and doors, damaged and missing bathroom tile, broken window blinds, spray-painted walls, and other damage.

“There were tiles removed from the shower causing water to go into the ceiling downstairs and causing issues for the tenant downstairs … it was a major project that I’m still dealing with,” Kearney explained.

Combining the rent lost and money spent on repairs for the home, Kearney lost $20,000

“And that was me doing it the scrappy way. I could’ve had a company come in and probably charge me triple,” Kearney said of the repairs she completed.

She is now hesitant and “nervous” to keep her rental property after getting no help from the state during the disaster she had to deal with.

“Honestly, I feel like the state stole my property. They stole my property for a period of time … when I reached out on multiple occasions to the governor’s office, there was no response,” she said. “They’re just allowed to take my property, no questions asked, no repercussions, no accountability.”

She noted that “every other industry had it figured out” when COVID-19 began to slow down.

“But the conversation about landlords was that they were bad people. Everything that anybody was talking about was how terrible the landlords were,” Kearney said.

Her story is not unique. Some landlords in Minnesota lost over $100,000 in damages to their rental home during the moratorium, covered exclusively by Alpha News last month.


Rose Williams
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Rose Williams is an assistant editor for Alpha News.