Cocchiarella v. DriggsAnnotate this Case
Appellant agreed with Respondent to rent an apartment located in Hennepin County. Respondent received the first month’s rent and security deposit but refused to deliver physical possession of the premises to Appellant. Appellant brought an unlawful exclusion petition under Minn. Stat. 504B.375 - the unlawful exclusion statute - to enforce her agreement with Respondent. The housing referee recommended granting Respondent’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that Appellant did not qualify as a “residential tenant” under the statute because she was not physically “occupying” the residential premises. The district court adopted the referee’s decision. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a tenant who holds the present legal right to occupy residential rental property pursuant to a lease or contract satisfies the definition of “residential tenant” under Minn. Stat. 504B.001, and (2) therefore, upon the effective date of a lease agreement, a tenant has the right to bring an unlawful removal or exclusion petition under Minn. Stat. 504B.375(1).