Nuisance and problem properties

What is a nuisance property?

A nuisance property is any building in which illegal activity takes place that is unsafe or reduces the quality of life for the surrounding neighborhood.

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Nuisance activities include:

  • Drug dealing or illegal possession of drugs
  • Prostitution
  • Weapons violations
  • Unlawful alcohol sales
  • Conduct that unreasonably annoys, injures, or endangers the safety, health or comfort of members of the public

Repeated violations of commercial licensing regulations may also be a nuisance. The nuisance statute requires this conduct be associated with a particular address. If the livability concerns are not connected to a problem property another legal strategy may be needed to resolve the issue.

If nuisance activities are taking place at a particular address, the county attorney can start a nuisance action under Minnesota law.

The first step in abating a nuisance is reporting the problem.

Contact your local police department to report an ongoing nuisance problem property. In Minneapolis, you can call 311 or submit an online police report regarding nuisance problems. You can also contact your Crime Prevention Specialist (CPS) for assistance with a problem property. Find your local police contact.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office can also help you submit nuisance complaints and report other crimes. You can contact us at 612-348-2146 or

Remember, call 911 if you see current criminal or suspicious activity.

The next step is abating or addressing the nuisance. The goal of the nuisance statute is to end the activity that is disturbing the neighbors.

Notice of the nuisance

If the police refer a problem property, Minnesota law allows the county attorney to send notice to the homeowner, landlord or other building owner informing them of the violation and demanding the problem be remedied within 30 days.

Abatement plan

Often the owner agrees to make the changes abating the problem. For example, a landlord may evict a troublesome tenant.

If an acceptable plan is developed, the county attorney will monitor the address for a number of months. If there is no more trouble the file is closed.

Failure to respond or abate the nuisance

If the owner does not respond, or fails to develop and enforce an acceptable abatement plan, the county attorney can file an action for a court order to abate the nuisance. If the problem remains, the court can order the boarding of the property for one year.

Minnesota’s nuisance statute is found at Minn. Stat. 617.80 – 617.87:

617.81 – defines a nuisance and grants the County Attorney the authority to start a nuisance action.

617.82 – grants the County Attorney the power to enter into an abatement agreement for a problem property.

617.83 – states that the court may shutter a property for a period of one year if the problem is not abated.

617.84 – allows the court to seize and sell movable property within the building if it is related to a nuisance.

617.85 – allows a landlord to cancel a lease if the tenant is involved in nuisance activity.

617.86 – allows the court to hold anyone who violates an abatement order in contempt of court.

617.87 – allows the property owner to post a bond after a board up order in exchange for a promise to abate the nuisance. A continuing violation will cost the owner $1,000 per day.

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