may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
C & T Properties,
Kenneth R. McCallister,
Jennifer M. McCallister,
Filed January 12, 1999
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C29712042
Dennis K. Kispert, 190 Midtown Commons, 2334 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55114 (for respondent)
Laura Jelinek, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc., 300 Minnesota Building, 46 East Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Crippen, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]
Jennifer M. McCallister appeals from the district court's judgment affirming the decision of the housing court that respondent C & T Properties is entitled to a writ of restitution in an unlawful detainer action. We affirm.
On October 9, 1997, McCallister and her husband entered into a written lease with respondent for a term of one year, commencing on November 1, 1997. The lease identified four specific circumstances under which respondent had the right to terminate the lease without notice.
Respondent brought an unlawful detainer action against McCallister and her husband on December 9, 1997, alleging nonpayment of the security deposit and breaches of various terms of the rental agreement, specifically, the housing of children and pets, disturbing the peace, and the destruction of property. Respondent requested that it be given immediate possession of the property.
On December 31, 1997, the housing court found that respondent's allegations concerning the housing of children and pets were true and in violation of the lease. Accordingly, the court issued a writ of restitution of the property to respondent. McCallister and her husband filed a notice of request for review by the district court.
The district court confirmed the housing court's findings and made an additional finding that McCallister and her husband violated the lease by failing to post the required security deposit. The district court therefore concluded that respondent was entitled to a writ of restitution of the property. This appeal followed. McCallister's husband is not a party to the appeal.
McCallister contends that in an unlawful detainer action a landlord may retake a property only where the lease specifies that the landlord has a right to terminate the lease upon a breach by the tenant. She argues that none of the breaches here afforded respondent the right to terminate the lease, and the district court therefore erred in concluding that respondent was entitled to a writ of restitution.
A civil action for unlawful detainer is a summary remedy for obtaining possession of property wrongfully held by a tenant. Mac-Du Properties v. LaBresh, 392 N.W.2d 315, 317 (Minn. App. 1986), review denied (Minn. Oct. 29, 1986). On appeal, this court determines whether the district court's findings of fact are clearly erroneous. Minneapolis Community Dev. Agency v. Smallwood, 379 N.W.2d 554, 555 (Minn. App. 1985) (citing Minn. R. Civ. P. 52.01), review denied (Minn. Feb. 19, 1986).
A landlord may bring an action for unlawful detainer when "any person holds over lands or tenements * * * contrary to the conditions or covenants of the lease or agreement under which that person holds." Minn. Stat. § 566.03, subd. 1(2) (1998). Generally, assuming the landlord has pleaded facts showing the tenant is in unlawful possession of the property, the only issue for the fact-finder is whether "the facts alleged in the complaint are true." Mac-Du Properties, 392 N.W.2d at 317 (citations omitted). If the factual allegations are true, the landlord is entitled to an immediate writ of restitution of the premises. Minn. Stat. § 566.09 (1998).
Here, the housing court found that respondent's allegations of lease violations relating to the housing of pets and the number of children residing in the home were true. Accordingly, the housing court ordered that a writ of restitution be issued, returning possession of the property to respondent. The district court confirmed the housing court's findings--and made an additional finding that McCallister and her husband violated the lease by failing to post the required security deposit--and therefore also concluded that respondent was entitled to a writ of restitution of the property.
In support of her argument that respondent cannot recover possession of the property, McCallister cites Bauer v. Knoble, 51 Minn. 358, 53 N.W. 805 (1892). Bauer concluded that where a lease does not contain a provision for termination of the lease or right of re-entry upon the breach of a covenant, holding over after the breach of a lease covenant "cannot be said to be contrary to the conditions or covenants of the lease." Id. at 359, 53 N.W. at 805. As a result, the supreme court found that the summary remedy provided by the unlawful detainer statute was unavailable to the landlord. Id. (interpreting Minn. Gen. Stat. ch. 84, § 11 (1878)).
McCallister argues that the language of the unlawful detainer statute has remained almost unchanged since 1892 and Bauer is, therefore, binding on Minnesota courts, citing Minn. Stat. §§ 645.17(4) (1996) (presuming that, "[w]hen a court of last resort has construed the language of a law," reenactment of statute without change constitutes adoption of construction), 566.03, subd. 1(2) (using language similar to that interpreted in Bauer to describe landlord's rights). McCallister asserts, therefore, that the district court erred in concluding that respondent was entitled to a writ of restitution of the property.
But McCallister ignores a 1971 addition to the unlawful detainer statute, which provides:
Nothing contained herein shall limit the right of the lessor pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 1 to terminate a tenancy for a violation by the tenant of a lawful, material provision of a lease or contract.
Minn. Stat. § 566.03, subd. 4. And this court has stated that "a landlord's right of action for unlawful detainer is complete upon a tenant's violation of a lease condition." Minneapolis Community Dev. Agency, 379 N.W.2d at 556 (citing First Minneapolis Trust Co. v. Lancaster Corp., 185 Minn. 121, 131, 240 N.W. 459, 464 (1931) (involving tenant in default of payment of rent)).
In First Minneapolis Trust Co., the court noted that the landlord's "right to prosecute [an action for unlawful detainer] is not based upon the right of re-entry contained in the lease." 185 Minn. at 131, 240 N.W. at 464. Consequently, "[t]he provisions in the lease * * * in no way preclude the lessor * * * from pursuing [the] remedy" of unlawful detainer. Id. at 133, 240 N.W. at 464 (citation omitted). Thus, to maintain an unlawful detainer action, the landlord only "must plead and prove facts which show the [tenant] is in unlawful possession of [the] property." Mac-Du Properties, 392 N.W.2d at 317 (citing Minn. Stat. § 566.03, subd. 1).
McCallister contends that respondent cannot recover possession of the property because the breaches of the lease found by the housing court and the district court are not among the four circumstances the lease specifically identifies as giving respondent the right to terminate without notice. But rather than limiting respondent's rights, the conditions of the lease relating to termination without notice give respondent rights that are in addition to those provided by the unlawful detainer statute.
The district court found that respondent pleaded and proved that McCallister and her husband violated provisions of the lease. Because these findings of fact were not clearly erroneous, the district court did not err in concluding that respondent was entitled to a writ of restitution of the property.
[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by apointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.