Hennepin Housing Court

Hennepin County District Court »

Housing Court is part of the Civil Division and handles cases involving landlord and tenant disputes. It is governed by Minn. Stat. Chapter 504B and the Housing Court Rules.

Effective July 1, 2015, attorneys and government agencies must use the eFile & eServe system to file documents in Housing Court.
Quick Links:

An eviction action is a lawsuit filed by a landlord who is asking the court to determine if the tenant should be evicted or has a legal right to remain on the property. If you do not agree with the complaint, or if you do not believe that you should be evicted, or if you need more time to move, you must come to court.

Possible reasons for filing an eviction:
  • Non-payment of rent (most common)
  • Not moving after receiving proper notice or after lease has expired
  • Cancellation of a "contract for deed"
  • Mortgage foreclosure
  • Lease violation - including drug related

​Filing an Eviction Complaint

Who may file:
  • Property owner;
  • Owner represented by an attorney who will file;
  • Owner represented by someone who will file;
  • Person entitled to possession of the property;
  • Owner represented by a designated agent with a Power of Authority. NOTE: Agents may not conduct a jury trial or appeal in the Appellate or Supreme Court.
Required notice of landlord's contact information:
The law in MN Statute § 504B.181 requires that a landlord inform the tenant in writing about the following information, and post the information in a noticeable place in the building:
  • Name, address of the authorized manager of the building;
  • Name, address of the owner of the building or the authorized agent who collects rent and is responsible for notices and demands;
  • Statement of your compliance with this law on the complaint form.
The landlord must comply with the law or the eviction complaint may be dismissed unless you can prove that the tenant has known about the information for at least 30 days before you filed the complaint.

Complete the forms:

  • Follow the Eviction Complaint Instructions.
  • List the approximate date the tenant signed the lease or occupied the property.
  • List the complete address of the property, including any identifying information.
  • List the length and terms of the lease or if the lease is "month-to-month."
  • Identify the owner of the property and the legal relationship to the person signing the complaint.
  • Indicate that you have followed the law of Minn. Stat. § 504B.181.
  • Give your reason(s) for wanting the tenant evicted.
  • File original complaint document on floor C-3 of the Hennepin County Government Center.
  • If a written lease is involved, attach a copy of the lease to the complaint.
  • File one copy of the complaint for each defendant named and one additional copy.
  • Pay the filing fee (check made to: District Court Administrator).
A summons is a legal, written notice informing the defendant (tenant) that a court action has been started and that the claim will be heard on a specific day. It also states that if the defendant disagrees with the action or wants to tell a different side of the story, s/he must appear in court at that time. After the complaint has been completed, the court prepares a summons and several copies, and gives them to the person (plaintiff) who filed the complaint.

Service of Process:
  • The plaintiff may not serve the summons.
  • Service of the summons must be completed at least seven (7) days before the hearing date.
  • A summons may not be served on legal holidays.
  • An affidavit of service must be filed with the court three (3) business days before the court date.
How to serve the Summons:
  • Personal Service: Another adult who is not a party to the case may hand the summons directly to the defendant at least seven days before the court date.
  • Substitute Service: Another adult who is not a party to the case may deliver the summons by leaving a copy of the summons with another responsible person who lives with the defendant. This person is then responsible for delivering the summons to the defendant.
  • Mailing and Posting: Posting is used as a form of service when the defendant(s) cannot be found and if personal or substitute service has been attempted at least twice on different days with at least one of the attempts having been made between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
All of the following steps must be completed at least seven (7) days before the hearing:
  • The plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney mails a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the defendant’s last known address.
  • Process server has made at least two (2) attempts at service at the premises. Attempts must be on different days, with one attempt between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
  • Process server completes notarized Affidavit of Not Found.
  • Plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney completes notarized Affidavit of Plaintiff (states defendant can not be found)
  • Plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney at law who mailed the Summons completes notarized Affidavit of Mailing.
  • The Affidavit of Not Found, Affidavit of Plaintiff, and the Affidavit of Mailing are filed with the Court
After these steps are completed and the affidavits are filed, then:
  • The Process Server "posts" the Summons and Complaint in an easy to notice place on the premises (rental property). This must occur at least seven (7) days before the hearing.
  • Process server must complete an Affidavit of Service by Posting, and file it with the court at least three (3) working days before the hearing.

Eviction Hearing in Housing Court

Housing Court eviction hearing are held at the Hennepin County Government Center, Floor C-3, 300 South 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN. A hearing date is assigned at the time of filing the complaint, and the hearing is held within 14 days of the filing date. Need an interpreter? If you need interpreter services at the hearing, call the court right away (612) 348-5186. The court generally needs 48 hours notice to provide an interpreter.

If the landlord wins the case, the court will issue a Writ of Recovery and Order to Vacate,which is a legal notice ordering the defendant (tenant) to move from the property described in the eviction complaint. The landlord (or agent) may pick up the writ at the Housing Court on floor C-3 of the Hennepin County Government Center and pay the writ fee. The writ must be given to the sheriff's office to be served on the defendant. If the sheriff cannot serve the writ notice personally, they may post it in a visible location on the property described in the complaint. The tenant has 24 hours to move from the property. If the tenant disobeys the notice, the landlord may contact the sheriff at (612) 348-6759.

You can learn more about the process on the sheriff's Writs of Excecution webpage, and by reading the law on recovering property through a Writ of Recovery in MN Statute § 504B.365.

How to Recover Unpaid Rent

Claims for rent and other money that total less than $15,000.00 may be recovered by filing a case in Conciliation Court. Claims over $15,000 must be filed in Civil Court.

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Eviction Information for Tenants

An eviction action is 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.

Learn more in the Eviction Law Fact Sheet »

  • You may 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 could have an eviction action on your rental history for ten years; possibly making it more difficult for you to rent in the future.
  • 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;
Get legal advice and other help at the Housing Court Project.

Interpreter services – If you need an interpreter in court, please call the Housing Court at (612)348-5186 right away so that an interpreter can be scheduled.

  • 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 learn about 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.
  • 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.
  • Read both the Summons and Complaint carefully to find 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. Decide what to tell the court about your case;
  • If you have young children, please arrange for someone else to care for them while you are in court; you may be in court for several hours;
  • Arrive to court on time. If you are late, the hearing may start without you and you could be ordered you to move out of your home.
  • 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.
  • All cases are heard by a referee in Housing Court located on the 3rd floor of the C Tower in the Hennepin County Government Center.
  • Volunteer mediators are available to help you and your landlord settle your case at the time of your court hearing. Tell the courtroom clerk at check-in if you want a mediator.
  • If you are out of the courtroom or late when your case is called, you may lose your case. The landlord may get a 24-hour eviction notice from the court.
  • If you wrote a response (Answer) to your landlord’s complaint, file the Answer, with the filing fee, at the front counter of Housing Court. Give a copy of the Answer to your landlord before the hearing starts.
  • 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.
Learn more in the booklet How to Prepare for Trial in Housing Court »

Professional volunteer mediators, who are not court staff, are available at no cost to help settle the housing dispute. If all parties agree, you have the option of talking with the mediator before presenting your case to the court. If the case settles, you will write down the agreement and then present it to the referee or judge. If you would like to try to settle your case through mediation before the day of your court hearing, call (763) 561-0033 to ask for a mediator.

  • When addressing the referee or judge, 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, and tell the referee what your witnesses are there to talk about;
  • The referee may ask questions, but she or he cannot give you legal advice;
  • If a trial is needed, you must deposit any upaid rent with the court before a trial date will be scheduled.
  • May be made at hearing or it may be made after review and mailed to all parties;
  • If you win, you won't be ordered to move out of the property;
  • If landlord said you didn’t pay rent, the court will decide how much rent you owe. If you cannot pay the rent, you will have to move out;
  • A tenant can win an eviction case "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 the case;
  • If you lose the case, the landlord can get a Writ of Recovery of Premises and Order to Vacate immediately following the hearing.
  • A writ is a legal document that gives the landlord the right to take back (recover) possession of the rental property;
  • The writ can be executed only after the landlord wins in Housing Court;
  • The writ must be served by the sheriff in the county where the property is located;
  • The tenant must move 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 ask 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 at a later time.
  • You have ten (10) days to file an appeal of the decision of the referee or judge.
  • If a referee heard your case, your appeal will go before a district court judge to review the referee’s decision. Forms are available at the front counter of Housing Court administration.
  • If a judge heard your case and you disagree with the decision, you must file an appeal request with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
  • Filing an appeal is complicated, and we strongly encourage you to talk with an attorney and get legal advice. Court staff cannot give legal advice.
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Emergency Tenant Remedies Action (ETRA)

Emergency Tenant Remedy Action Court Form »
Minn. Stat. § 504B.381 »

Subdivision 1. Petition: A person authorized to bring an action under Minn. Stat. § 504B.395, subdivision 1, may petition the court for relief in cases of emergency involving the following events/situations:
  • Loss of running water;
  • Loss of hot water;
  • Loss of heat;
  • Loss of electricity;
  • Loss of sanitary facilities (example: toilet, shower/bathtub, etc.) or;
  • Loss of other essential services or facilities that the landlord is responsible for providing.
Tenant must:
  • Pay filing fee – unless the filing fee is ordered waived because you are low income
  • Tenant files the action in the Housing Court office, located at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South 6th Street, Floor C-3, Minneapolis, MN, and the paperwork is reviewed upon completion by the referee to determine if an emergency hearing is warranted.
These matters are usually scheduled very quickly. If the court finds there is a problem attributable to the landlord, it orders the problem corrected immediately. There may be a rent abatement ordered at the hearing to compensate the tenant for the inconvenience.

Tenant Remedy Action (TRA)

Minn. Stat. § 504B.395 »

A Tenant Remedy Action can be filed by the tenant with the court when a landlord has violated a tenant’s privacy by entering their home/residence without notice or the landlord has a current code violation(s) repair cited by a housing inspector. Tenant must:
  • Pay filing fee - unless the filing fee is ordered waived because you are low income;
  • Complete a Petition for Relief
  • Attach, to the Petition for Relief, a copy of a letter sent to the landlord 14 days before filing the Petition for Relief explaining what repairs need to be made in the residence or a certified copy of a housing inspection report from the housing inspector;
  • Pay into court any rent that is due to the landlord prior to the hearing date;
  • Attend a hearing that will be scheduled for a morning calendar 5 to 10 days from the date of filing the Petition for Relief.

Lock-out Petition

Lock-out Petition Court Form »
Minn. Stat. § 504B.375 »

A Lock-out Petition can filed by the tenant with the court when a landlord locks a tenant out of their home/residence and will not allow the tenant to re-enter the premises. Tenant must:
  • Pay filing fee – unless the filing fee is ordered waived because you are low income;
  • File a Lock-out Petition;
  • Attend a hearing scheduled before a referee as soon as possible (usually within 3 to 5 days);
  • After the hearing, get certified copies of the referee’s Order and Petition from clerk’s office;
  • Provide a certified copy of the Order and Petition to Sheriff’s Office to complete service on landlord,
  • Provide an impartial third party with a certified copy of the Order and Petition to complete service on landlord (unless the Order tells the tenant to serve).

Rent Escrow

Tenant's Rent Escrow Court Forms Packet »
Minn. Stat. § 504B.385 »

A Rent Escrow can be filed by the tenant with the court when a tenant has brought a non-emergency repair issue(s) to the attention of the landlord and the landlord has not completed the repair(s). Tenant must:
  • Pay filing fee – unless the filing fee is ordered waived because you are low income;
  • Complete the Affidavit of Rent Escrow, providing the address of the property owner and agent, manager or caretaker, if different from owner (no P.O. boxes);
  • Provide the court with a copy of a letter sent to the landlord, at least 14 days prior to filing the Rent Escrow case, detailing the non-emergency repair issue(s) that need to be made or a certified copy of a housing inspector’s report;
  • Pay into court any rent that is due to the landlord prior to the hearing date (cash or certified funds only);
  • Attend a hearing scheduled in 10 to 14 days from date of filing the Rent Escrow case;
  • If repair amount is $15,000.00 or less, the court will serve notice of the aciton on the landlord by mail. If the repair amount is over $15,000.00 the filing party (tenant) must arrange to have another adult who is not involved in the case serve notice on the landlord.
Learn more about Expunging a Housing Record 

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:
  • 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.

Housing Court Forms (Landlord/Tenant) »

The MN Judicial Branch Court Forms Catalog has statewide forms that may be used in any district court location. However, if your case is in Hennepin County, make sure you download the District 4 version if it listed in the catalog. Otherwise, you may use the statewide version.

Related: Other Hennepin County District Court Forms

Tenants and landlords who meet low-income guidelines can get their legal questions answered for free on a walk-in basis at the Hennepin County Housing Court Project, which is a joint effort of Hennepin County, the 4th District Housing Court, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and the Volunteer Lawyers Network. The Housing Court Project offers the following services:

Help with Housing Issues

  • Emergency Repairs
  • Expungement of Record
  • Lock Outs
  • Service Issues
  • Evictions
  • Lease Violations
  • Repair Problems
NOTE: The Housing Court Project is for advice only. It is best to get legal advice before your court date. Referrals are available to full representation legal services.

At the Housing Court Project clinic, tenants and landlords with low income who live in Hennepin County can get free legal advice consults on a first-come, first-served basis at the hours listed below. The clinic is on the 3rd floor of the C tower in the Hennepin County Government Center located at 300 S. 6th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55487.

To use the clinic, a tenant must have low income and live in Hennepin County. To use the clinic, a landlord must have low income and live in the rental property located in Hennepin County. The property title must be recorded in the landlord's name, not as a business.

Clinic Hours:

12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (tenants only)

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (tenants only)

12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (tenants only)

8:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon
12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.


4th District Housing Court
Hennepin County Govt. Center
300 S. 6th St., 3rd floor in C-tower
Minneapolis, MN 55487  Map »

Need a Lawyer to Handle Your Case?

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The management of court records is controlled by the Records Retention Schedule for the MN Judicial Branch and the law at MN Statute § 138.17 on keeping and destroying public records.

Housing Court files are generally open to the public. See the MN Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch. There is no charge to look at a file or court record.

"Expungement" means sealing the public record of a court action. If an eviction case is expunged, then someone searching court files cannot find a record of the eviction case. The law allows courts to expunge eviction cases, but only in a small number of situations..

How to Get Court Records

MNCIS - MPA Remote is the public, online version of the MN Court Information System (MNCIS), where you can search court records online. NOTE: There are limits to case information online which are described in the MN Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch. Online records do NOT include street addresses for parties, or information on pre-conviction criminal, traffic, and petty misdemeanor cases.

To view a court record that has an upcoming hearing date, you must go the courthouse to view that record. After the hearing, you can call the Housing Court at (612) 348-5186 to find out if the record can be accessed.

At the Courthouse
People can search court records online using public-access computers on the Public Service Level (PSL) and on floor C-3 at the Hennepin Co. Govt Ctr. Generally, the public may view the paper files of Hennepin Court records at the courthouse, and those are available at the Housing Court on floor C-3 of the Hennepin Co. Govt Ctr. If you want a copy of a document from a court file, there are fees for plain and certified copies.

NOTE: The Hennepin Court is in the process of converting paper files to digital format, so some paper files are no longer stored on-site.

By Mail
Generally, the Hennepin County Housing Court does not provide copies of court records through the mail. If you cannot find a court record online or by visiting the courthouse, you may call the Housing Court at (612) 348-5186 for more information.
Please visit our main Records Center page for details on how to find Hennepin Court Records for other types of cases.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, at the request of the parties to a dispute, assists them in reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement of the dispute. In mediation, you will meet with the other party and a mediator. The mediator is not a judge and will not decide the solution, but will help the parties reach an agreement and be part of the solution.

The Mediation Process

The filing party requests mediation by contacting the mediation program, and if both agree, a mediation session is scheduled at a community mediation location.

If the case is settled:
A settlement agreement is signed by both the parties. No court case is filed. No filing fee is paid. No court record of the action exists.

If the case is NOT settled or both parties are not willing to mediate:
The filer has the option to file a case in Housing Court and request a court hearing.

Benefits of Mediation

For Landlords
  • No filing fee if the case settles
For Tenants
  • If the case settles, there is no court record of an eviction action which could have a negative impact on future rentals.
For Both Parties
  • Parties reach their own agreement
  • Quick
  • Equal say in the solution
  • Low or no costs
  • Convenient hours and locations
  • Less stress
  • Informal
  • Enhances possibility of a workable future relationship

Examples of Disputes Where Mediation May Help

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Repair and maintenance issues
  • Lease violations

Mediation Programs in Hennepin County

For more information or to get started with mediation, call one of the numbers listed below or another mediation provider of your choice. You do not have to file a case in court to use mediation.

Conflict Resolution Center (formerly Minneapolis Mediation Program)
Serves residents of Minneapolis, St. Anthony, Richfield, Bloomington, Burnsville, Edina and Eden Prairie
Phone: (612) 822-9883
Fax: (612) 822-9890
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Community Mediation & Restorative Services, Inc.
Serves Hennepin County
Phone: (763) 561-0033
Fax: (763) 561-0266
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

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How to Represent Yourself in Housing Court


Prepare for your trial...


Talk to a lawyer if possible

If possible, get a lawyer to help you with your trial. Brief legal advice is available on a first-come first-served basis at the court's Self-Help Center, Monday - Friday, 9:00a - 1:00p, or at the Hennepin County Housing Court Project.

Read the court order carefully

The Court’s Decision and Order sets the trial date and time. Make sure you get a copy. It may also require you to do certain things. The order may ask you to exchange lists of witnesses and exhibits. Exhibits are the documents and other evidence you want to use at trial. If you do not exchange information on time, the Court may not allow you to use those witnesses and exhibits. Please bring 4 copies of your exhibits to the trial.

Pay the court-ordered rent on time

If the court order tells you to deposit rent, make sure you do so on time. The clerks will accept only cash or certified funds. Do not bring non-certified checks or money orders.

Scheduling and continuances

The Court generally schedules the trial within seven (7) days of your first appearance in court. If you want the trial postponed, you must ask the other side and the Court for a continuance. Ask as soon as possible. It is unusual to be allowed a continuance. You may have to ask the Court in writing.

Prepare early for your trial

This is the time to talk to persons who you want to be witnesses, and to decide what exhibits you want to bring to trial. Exhibits are things that you want the Court to look at, such as pictures, letters, leases and reports. You must bring them to court if you want the Court to look at them; the Court does not automatically get reports from other government agencies. Please bring 4 copies of your exhibits to the trial.

Evidence and witnesses

The MN Rules of Evidence control what evidence the Court can accept at trial. For example, in general, you cannot use oral or written statements from a person unless the person comes to trial to testify as a witness. This is called the “hearsay rule.” There are some exceptions to it. The rules of evidence are available at the Hennepin County Law Library, located in the Hennepin County Government Center on C-2400.


You can subpoena witnesses or documents to make sure that they appear at trial. You can get a subpoena from the clerk’s office for a fee, but the fee can be waived for persons with low incomes. You need to pay a witness fee of at least $20.00 to witnesses that you subpoena. If you want to use a housing inspector’s order as evidence, you do not need to subpoena the inspector. Instead, you can ask the housing inspector for a copy of the inspection order to use in court. However, if you are claiming that the Housing Inspector said anything that is not noted on the report or to present other evidence, you must subpoena the inspector. If you want a witness, including an inspector, to bring records to court, you must use a subpoena duces tecum to require the witness to bring records. The duces tecum box on the subpoena must be checked and a list of the documents you are requesting clearly written on the subpoena. If you need a police officer to be a witness, ask the clerks for more information.

Consider discussing settlement with the other side

Most cases end in a settlement. A Pre-filing Mediation program may be an option for you to settle your dispute. A settlement can save both sides time, money and the stress that goes along with having a trial. Either side might win or lose at trial, while settlement might allow each party to get something. The settlement should be in writing so both sides and the Court are clear about the settlement agreement. If you reach your settlement at Court, ask the clerks for a settlement form. The Court will need to review and approve your settlement. Visit the Settle Out of Court Help Topic for more information about other possible options.

Get to the court ahead of time

Check in at the Housing Court clerk’s office on Floor C-3 of the Hennepin County Government Center, along with your witnesses, at least 15 minutes before the trial is scheduled to begin. If you are not on time for your trial, you may lose your case by default.

Know the trial procedures

At the start of the trial, the Court will explain how the trial will be run. If you have a question, ask it then, before you start presenting your case. The Court cannot give you legal advice. The Court’s job is to independently judge the facts and the law. Everything said once the trial starts is “on the record,” which means that the court reporter or the recording equipment takes it all down. The only exception is if the Court goes “off the record” or orders something removed from the record. It is your job and your witnesses’ job to prove to the Court what you believe happened, and to convince the Court to rule in your favor. Read the booklet How to Prepare for Trial in Housing Court Cases.

Do not interrupt in court

Never interrupt the other side, a witness or the Court. If you think that the other side is violating the MN Rules of Evidence, you should stand up and say, “Your Honor, I object.” After making this statement, you should explain your objection to the evidence. For example, “that statement is hearsay, because the person who said it is not here to testify.” The Court will give the other side a chance to respond, and then the Court will either grant or deny your motion. If the Court grants your motion, then the other side’s evidence will not be allowed into the record.

What to do and not do

Do not bring young children to court. No gum, food or drinks (other than water), are allowed in the courtroom. Water must be in a spill-proof container because of the electronic court reporting equipment. If you need to take medicine, tell the Court in advance. You must treat the Court and the other side with respect. Address them formally, for example, “Your Honor”, “Mr. Smith”, or “the Defendant.”

Yelling, swearing and using abusive language are not allowed. The above inappropriate actions can be punished as contempt of the court with fines and an immediate escort by a court deputy to jail.

The Court may call a recess to let the court reporter or the court clerk rest. If you need a break for a medical reason, ask the Court immediately.

Who sits at the front tables

Usually, only the parties and their lawyers or other representatives sit up front at the tables in the courtroom. If you want someone else, like an advocate or building manager to sit with you, ask the Court at the start of the trial.You need the Court’s permission before you can walk up to a witness on the stand or the jdge or referee.Ask, “May I approach the witness?” or “May I approach the Bench?”

The end of the trial

At the end of the trial, the Court can make a decision in your case right away and you will receive a copy of the order from the court clerk. If the Court takes the case under advisement, the Court will mail you a copy of the order once a decision has been made. Make sure the Court has your correct mailing address. Do not call the referee or judge about your case. If you write the Court, you must send a copy to the other side. Always include your case number on any written communication sent to the court.
Photo of the Hennepin County Government Center
4th District Housing Court

Hennepin County Govt. Center
300 South 6th Street, C-300
Minneapolis, MN 55487 Map »
Courtrooms: Floor C3

Phone: (612) 348-5186
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday
Closed Holidays

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