5 Things My Clients Wish They Knew Before They Needed My Help

Real estate law is not something most homeowners or business owners think about as they go about their day-to-day business. But when a dispute with a tenant, landlord, neighbor, or the government arises, many property owners and renters find themselves scrambling to understand their rights. Here are the answers to a few of the questions I most often hear at my practice.


Can I trust the city/county/state/federal government to know and follow the law?

It would be nice if we could always count on government employees and agencies to understand Minnesota’s complicated eminent domain laws during a public works project. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. That’s why I encourage many of my clients to do their own due diligence during any eminent domain case involving the government. I often suggest hiring an independent property appraiser, surveyor, and title company to confirm that the work—and the numbers—the government presents to you is accurate and fair.


Why am I not getting my security deposit back?

Disputes between landlords and tenants aren’t going away anytime soon. One of the most common questions I get from tenants is why they haven’t received their security deposits back. Minnesota law stipulates that a tenant is obligated to leave their rental in the condition their lease stipulates—usually that’s clean and undamaged beyond normal wear and tear. If this is the case, landlords must return the deposit within 21 days or explain in writing why they are withholding the deposit.

Unpaid rent and damages beyond normal wear and tear are the most common reasons deposits are not returned. If you feel you are owed your security deposit (or if you’re a landlord who was greeted by a mess that rivals a hotel room after a rock band’s spent the night), you should seek legal help in getting your deposit back (or payment for needed repairs).


Am I entitled to compensation in the event the government seizes my property?

Under eminent domain law, property owners (and tenants) are entitled to just compensation for property the government seizes through eminent domain. Typically, this is fair market value of the property. But often, businesses can seek compensation based on the success of their business, the loss of loyal, local customers, or the value of a unique property. Homeowners, business owners, and tenants are entitled to help relocating, including hunting for a new property and moving costs.


What is an easement, and what are my rights as a property owner?

An easement is a piece of land the government owns but does not occupy or possess. The most common example in the Twin Cities is the boulevard between the sidewalk and the street. Technically, the city owns this property, but you can modify and use it as you wish—until the government needs to use the land.

When the government decides it needs to use its easement to widen a road, improve a sidewalk, or replace sewer lines, it is entitled to do just that—and ask you to pay the removal of anything that impairs their ability to do so as long as it does not cause you an undue burden. So, if you’ve built raised garden beds along the boulevard and the government wants to use it to replace sewer lines, you’re responsible for removing the beds.


Am I powerless to challenge the government or my landlord?

Absolutely not. Real estate attorneys are here to help, from tenant/landlord disputes to complicated eminent domain cases involving multiple government interests. Contact Jon Morphew and the Morphew Law Office, PLLC at 612-790-9189 today for a free consultation.

Brynne Turner