Landlords often do background checks on new tenants, and they may look at court records to see if there are past eviction cases involving the tenant(s). There are also screening companies who provide this service for a fee. It can be difficult, but not impossible, to have an eviction record expunged (sealed) so that landlords and screening companies cannot see the record.
Eviction Expungement: FAQ
What does expungement mean?
Why would I want to ask for expungement of my court eviction record?
What is a good reason to ask for an expungement?
When is expungement NOT granted?
How do I ask for an expungement?
Q: What does expungement mean?
Read the law online.
A: Expungement means sealing a court record from public view. If your eviction record is expunged, then someone searching court files will not find a record of your case. The law allows courts to expunge eviction cases, but only in a small number of situations where the tenant can prove all of the following:
- the landlord's eviction case was "sufficiently" without basis in fact or law,
- the expungement is "clearly in the interest of justice," AND
- the "interest of justice" is not outweighed by the "public's interest in knowing the record."
Q: Why would I want to ask for an expungement of my court record?
A: Having an eviction order issued against you can affect your ability to rent another property. Eviction court records may be viewed by the public. Landlords and tenant screen companies often do background checks on people who try to rent their property.
Q: What is a good reason to ask for an expungement?
A: Every case is different, but good reasons to ask for an expungement include cases where:
the tenant won the eviction case started by the landlord.
- the parties settled the eviction case with an agreement, and the landlord agreed that he or she did not have good legal reasons for starting the case.
- the tenant lost the eviction case by default because he never got the court papers from the landlord.
Q: When is expungement NOT granted?
A: Expungement is usually denied if:
The tenant lost the eviction case for legal reasons and a judgment was issued against the tenant. Talk to a lawyer
to find out if and how the judgment can be satisfied. The tenant did not give proper notice to the landlord of the request for expungement, and/or the tenant did not file proof of proper service with the court within the required time. The tenant did not pay all rent due before the eviction case was filed, even if the case was resolved (before or at the hearing), and the tenant voluntarily left the property.
Q: How do I ask for an expungement?
A: You can download a Notice of Motion and Motion for Expungement form (#HOU502)
to use in asking for expungement of an eviction record. The MN Judicial Branch does NOT publish instructions on the process for eviction expungements. But, see "Expunging an Eviction Case"
published by the MN Legal Services Coalition, which has brief instructions.
There is a court fee
to file a Motion for Expungement
. The fee amount depends on where the case is filed and whether you filed an Answer to Eviction (#HOU202)
before the hearing. If you are low income and cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you could ask the court for a Fee Waiver
Talk to an attorney
if you need help with the process or need legal advice. Your county law library
might have additional information on expungement of eviction records. There may also be self-help resources available near you. See Self-Help Services in the Courts