What Is the "Cold Weather Rule" for Evictions in Minnesota?
During the winter, your utility bills can skyrocket, especially if the Minnesota winter is as brutal as usual. Whether owned or rented, heating your home can become costly. But what if you can’t make those payments? Are you protected in any way?
What Is the Cold Weather Rule in Minnesota?
The Minnesota Legislature developed the Cold Weather Rule to protect tenants and homeowners from having their heat utility permanently disconnected from October 15 to April 15.
The rule does not stop your heat from being shut off. However, it protects those whose income is at or below 50% of the state median income provided that tenant enters into a payment plan with the utility service provider. The tenant must then make those timely payments to the utility.
This rule applies to all natural gas and electric utilities and excludes oil, wood, and propane.
What Does the Rule Mandate for Disconnections?
The Cold Weather rule requires that the utility company notify the tenant in writing before the disconnection. It must be easy to understand and contain the amount due, the date of the disconnection, the reasons for disconnection, and options to avoid disconnection.
Regulated utilities must deliver this written notice to the tenant seven working days before the shut-off date, and unregulated utilities must provide notice fifteen days in advance.
While an appeal is pending, the disconnection cannot happen on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and cannot occur on a holiday or the day before a holiday.
How to Get On a Payment Plan
If you find yourself with a notice from your utility from October to April, you should reach out to the provider and arrange for a payment plan. Anyone, regardless of income, may qualify for a payment plan.
The rule states that payment plans must be agreed upon throughout the year, not just during winter months. After you agree to a payment plan, you must keep your payments current. Contact your utility service provider if something changes and you need to renegotiate your plan.
Can I Appeal My Disconnection Notice?
Yes, you can appeal your disconnection notice if you cannot agree with your utility service provider. First, you must ask your utility provider for the appeal form. Second, fill it out and send it to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. They will review and issue a decision within 20 working days.
During this appeal, your heat cannot be shut off. If your heat was already disconnected, the utility must reconnect it.
If your appeal is denied, you will receive a notice from your utility company at least seven days before it disconnects your service.
Is There a Cold Weather Rule for Evictions?
There is no cold weather rule for evictions; A tenant can still be evicted, or a landlord can choose not to renew a lease during the winter months.
This applies to foreclosure properties as well if the original owner is still living in the house.
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