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ACC OP (University Commons), LLC v. Rodriguez

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 18, 2017

ACC OP (University Commons), LLC, Appellant,
v.
Jose Rodriguez, Respondent

         Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CV-HC-17-1569

          Natalie R. Walz, Chestnut Cambronne PA, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Luke Grundman, Georgina P. Santos, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Rodenberg, Judge; and Reilly, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Under Minn. Stat. § 504B.291, subd. 1(a) (2016), a landlord may not bring an action to evict based on failure to pay attorney fees in excess of five dollars incurred in a previous eviction action for nonpayment of rent.

          OPINION

          WORKE, JUDGE.

         Appellant landlord argues that the district court erred by determining that appellant could not evict respondent tenant for failure to pay attorney fees in excess of five dollars arising out of a previous eviction action against respondent for nonpayment of rent. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Appellant ACC OP (University Commons) LLC leased a room for one year to respondent Jose Rodriguez for $549 per month. The lease contained a provision stating that if Rodriguez violated the terms of the lease, University Commons could recover all reasonable costs and expenses it incurred enforcing its rights and remedies under the lease. The lease also provided:

At [University Commons's] option and without notice to [Rodriguez], any payment that [University Commons] receive[s] may be applied first to [Rodriguez's] obligations which do not constitute Rent and then to Rent (with any past due Rent being paid first), regardless of whether or not [Rodriguez has] made notations on checks or money orders and regardless of when or how the obligation came about.

         In January 2017, University Commons commenced an eviction action against Rodriguez for nonpayment of rent. The district court found in favor of University Commons and ordered that Rodriguez could redeem the tenancy by paying University Commons $1, 387.99 by February 17, 2017. Although Rodriguez's payment was $2.99 short of the total amount ordered by the district court, the parties treated it as a redemption. In pursuing the eviction action, University Commons incurred $3, 090 in attorney fees.

         On February 27, 2017, Rodriguez paid University Commons $1, 000. University Commons applied $997.01 of this payment to the attorney fees it incurred, and the remaining $2.99 to satisfy the outstanding amount Rodriguez was ordered to pay by the district court.

         On two occasions in March 2017, University Commons notified Rodriguez that he had an outstanding rent balance of $2, 771.26 and that if payment was not received, University Commons would proceed with an eviction action. This "balance" was the result of University Commons applying ...


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