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What does expungement mean?
Read the law at MN Statute § 484.014.
Expungement means sealing the public record of a court action. If your eviction is expunged, then someone searching court files cannot find a record of your eviction case. The law allows courts to expunge eviction cases, but only in a small number of situations:
- The landlord’s case must be “sufficiently” without basis in fact or law;
- The expungement must be “clearly in the interest of justice;” and
- The “interest of justice” must not be outweighed by the “public’s interest in knowing the record”
Why would would I want to get an expungement order?
- Eviction court records may be viewed by the public.
- Landlords and tenant screening companies can access public court records, including eviction records. A landlord may not want to rent to a tenant who has an eviction record.
Who may ask for an expungement?
Every case is different, but in general, you may qualify for an expungement when:
- you won the case; or
- you settled the case with an agreement, and the landlord agreed that he or she did not have a good case; or
- you lost by "default" because you never got the court papers, and you have strong proof that the landlord did not have a good case against you.
Expungement will not be granted if:
- You lost the case and the court file contains a judgment against you. Please talk to a lawyer to see if and how the judgment can be removed from your record.
- You do not give proper notice of the expungement proceeding to the landlord and/or you do not file proof of proper service with the court in a timely manner.
- Rent was not paid before the case was filed, but before or at the court hearing the issue was resolved and the tenant redeemed the property. Expungement is not automatically appropriate and will not necessarily be granted.
How do I get an expungement?
If you do not follow these procedures, your case will not go forward and you may have to pay court costs:
1. Look at the court decision from the eviction case. If you do not have a copy, go to the Hennepin County Government Center, Floor 3 (C-3) and buy a copy for a fee. Since not all files are located in the Government Center, retrieval of your court file from off-site storage may take a week.
2. Go to Housing Court, Floor 3 (C-3) of the Government Center to fill out and file your motion.
3. Fill out the Notice of Motion and Motion for Expungement form (also available at the above address):
- At the top of the form, fill in the landlord’s name (where it says “plaintiff”) and your name (where is says “defendant”);
- Fill in the court file number of your eviction case;
- Wait to fill in the "Notice of Motion" section until the court has given you a hearing date and the name of a judge or referee;
- Fill in all of the blanks in the "Motion" section of the form;
- You must sign the papers only when you are in front of a notary public or court clerk;
- Attach any documents that will help your case.
4. The court will send you an "Order Setting Motion for Expungement" with the date of your court hearing. You must arrange to have another adult (not involved in the case) serve a copy of that Order form on the plaintiff and all interested parties at least 10 days before the hearing. MN Rule of Civil Procedure 5.02 requires that service be done by a disinterested third party in one of the following ways:
- Deliver a copy of your order to the plaintiff and all interested parties at their place of business or home, leaving a copy with the person or a person in charge (business) or a person of suitable age (home);
- Fax a copy of your order to the plaintiff and all interested parties;
- Mail a copy of your order to the last known address of the plaintiff and all interested parties.
Note: If the plaintiff is represented by an attorney, the server should send the copy of the Order to the attorney.
5. After service is completed, the server must fill out and sign an Affidavit of Service form in front of a notary or court clerk. You (the defendant) must make sure that the Affidavit of Service gets filed with the court by 3:00 p.m., three business days before the hearing, in order for your case to proceed on the scheduled hearing date.
6. Go to the hearing prepared. Bring copies of any documents that you included with your Motion, and anything else that might help you prove your case.
What should I do after I get an expungement?
- Check the court records to be sure that the expunged case is no longer public. Court Administration can tell you how to check the records.
- Ask the court clerk for the instructions and forms packet on “Notifying Tenant Screening Companies About Your Expungement.”
What should I do if the court does not grant my request for an expungement?
- If your request is denied because of lack of service or untimely service, you will have to begin again by re-filing your Motion for Expungement. However, excessive re-filings may result in the assessment of sanctions against the filing party.
- If your request is denied for other reasons, you may want to consult an attorney to see if you have other options.
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