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Respond to Eviction Action
Tenants: How to Respond to an Eviction Action
Eviction Action: A legal action where a landlord files a written complaint with the court asking that the tenant be evicted (permanently removed) from the rental property. If the tenant does not agree with the complaint, believes he or she should not be evicted, or needs more time to move out, then the tenant must appear in court.
IF YOU DO NOT COME TO COURT:
- You will lose the case;
- Judgment may be entered against you ordering that you be evicted from your home, the judge can order you to move immediately;
- If you don’t move, the sheriff can move you and your family out and can place all of your belongings into storage.
- You will have an eviction action on your rental history for ten years; possibly making it more difficult for you to rent in the future.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO:
- Come to court and tell your side of the case;
- Prove to the court that your landlord does not have the right to evict you;
- Ask the court to allow up to seven (7) days to move. Tell the court why you need extra time; reasons include circumstances regarding young children, disabled or elderly family members. The court allows more than seven (7) days to move only if your landlord agrees to it;
To obtain legal assistance – consult the “Resources for Help or Legal Advice” list for free/low cost legal agencies;
Interpreter services – the Court will provide interpreters for litigants. Call the Clerks' Office (612.348.5186) right away, so that an interpreter can be scheduled.
WHEN YOU ARE BEING EVICTED FOR NOT PAYING RENT:
- Bring the rent money to court with the court fees listed on the complaint. Bring your money in the form of cash or certified check;
- If you do not have the money, you may be eligible for financial help. Call Hennepin County Economic Assistance at 612-596-1300 or United Way 211 at 612-335-5000 to hear about possible rent assistance;
- If you have not paid your rent and your apartment is not in reasonable repair, you must bring the rent to court and tell the court about the repairs needed.
YOU MAY HAVE OTHER DEFENSES TO THE EVICTION ACTION, SUCH AS:
- Court papers were not properly served;
- You did not violate your rental agreement;
- Landlord did not give you proper notice to move;
- Landlord is retaliating (getting even);
- Apartment is not in reasonable repair;
- Landlord is discriminating against you because of race, sex, marital status, religion, national origin, disability, affectional preference or qualification for public assistance or welfare.
HOW TO GET READY FOR COURT:
- Read both the Summons and Complaint carefully to determine the hearing date, time and location, as well as the reason the landlord wants to evict you from your residence;
- Write down a response to the complaint. Determine what to tell the court about your case;
- Try to make arrangements for the care of your small children while you are in court; You may be in court for several hours;
- Be on time. Even if you are a few minutes late, court will start without you and could order you to move.
WHAT TO BRING TO COURT:
- Your court papers;
- Rent that you owe in the form of cash or cashier’s check;
- Receipt or canceled check to prove payment;
- Your lease and other papers that you signed to rent your place;
- Your notice to move;
- Witnesses, pictures, inspection orders and other documents, that support your case;
- Your written response to the reason your landlord wants to evict you.
THE COURTROOM PROCESS:
- All cases are heard/held in the Hennepin County Government Center, Floor C-3, before a referee;
- If your want your case to be heard by a judge, you need to file a written notice with the court 24 hours before your hearing;
- If you are out of the courtroom or late when your case is called, you will lose your case. The landlord can get a 24-hour eviction notice from the court;
- If you wrote a response to your landlord’s complaint, give the response to the referee. Give a copy of the response to your landlord before court;
- If you need more time to move, tell the court your reason. Acceptable reasons include circumstances regarding young children, elderly or disabled family members;
- If you want a jury trial, you may have to pay a jury fee.
MEDIATION: Professional mediators, who are not associated with the court staff, are available at no cost. If all parties agree, you have the option of talking with the mediator prior to presenting your case to the court. If the case settles, you will write down the agreement and then present it to the judge/referee.
YOUR DAY IN COURT:
- When addressing the judge/referee speak carefully, slowly, calmly, and as clearly as possible;
- Do not lose your temper or the court deputy will be asked to assist;
- Direct your comments to the referee, not to the landlord.
- Do not interrupt your landlord while in court. Both you and your landlord will have a chance to tell your side of the story;
- Present any evidence that you may have, also let the referee know what your witnesses are there to talk about;
- The referee may ask questions, but he/she will not give you advice;
- If a trial is necessary, you will need to post the rent with the court before a trial date will be scheduled.
THE COURT’S DECISION/ORDER:
- May be made at hearing or it may be made after review and mailed to all parties;
- If you win, you don’t have to move;
- If landlord said you didn’t pay rent, the court will decide how much rent you owe. If you can not pay the rent, you will have to move;
- A tenant can win with conditions. For example, you may have to pay the rent by the end of the week. If you do not pay by the due date it is the same as losing;
- If you lose, the landlord can get a Writ of Recovery of Premises and Order to Vacate immediately following the hearing.
THE WRIT OF RECOVERY OF PREMISES AND ORDER TO VACATE:
- Is a legal document that gives the landlord the right to recover possession of the apartment;
- The writ can be executed only after the landlord wins in Housing Court;
- The writ must be served by the sheriff;
- The tenant must be moved out within 24 hours of the Writ of Recovery being posted or served;
- If you have a hardship, such as children or an elderly person in your home, or a disability you can request the referee to stay (delay) the writ for seven (7) days;
- If you do not move out within 24 hours, the landlord can arrange to have the sheriff move you out of the apartment;
- When the sheriff arrives, you may not have the time to move your possessions from your apartment. Property will be stored and you will have to pay to get it back
IF A REFEREE HEARD YOUR CASE AND YOU DISAGREE BELIEVE THERE WAS AN ERROR IN FACT OR LAW:
- You have ten (10) days to file an appeal of the referee’s/judge’s decision.
- If a referee heard your case, your appeal will go before a district court judge to review the referee’s decision. Paperwork is available through the court.
- If a judge heard your case and you disagree with the decision, you must file your appeal request with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
- Filing an appeal is complicated, it is recommended that you seek legal advice through an agency, as court personnel are not trained to assist you in this process.
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