Minnesota Supreme Court order takes aim at new eviction filing law

Minnesota Supreme Court order takes aim at new eviction filing law

Minnesota Supreme Court order takes aim at new eviction filing law

The pandemic-era eviction moratorium expired last summer and eviction filings spiked. The Minnesota Legislature passed a package of renter protections during the session that followed.

One of the new laws prevented an eviction filing from being accessed by those who aren’t involved in the case until the court entered a final judgment.

“When an eviction is filed, it just means a relationship has broken down and it’s an allegation,” said Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis). “As soon as someone files, regardless of whether it’s a frivolous lawsuit or not, that now harms the tenant.”

She raised concerns the public record could prevent tenants from finding new housing and could have other future implications.

“What we wanted to do is make sure when it’s still at the allegation stage . . . that is a record that doesn’t continue to follow them,” Rep. Agbaje said.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order that “eviction records are public.” Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote access to records is “governed by rules adopted by the Supreme Court” and the changes the law makes are “contrary to the rules of public access.”

“I think for us, it was a little bit of a surprise,” Agbaje said. “We’re continuing to look at our options and to look at what this actually means for the Legislature so hopefully we’ll have more to share later.”

Attorney Doug Turner welcomes the decision. He’s a partner at Hanbery and Turner, a law firm that represents more than 100 landlords and property managers.

“I think that a lot of our clients are going to be happy,” Turner said. “Every court record should be available for everyone to see.”

He explained there were concerns about the time it could take to access records if the law had gone into effect.

“From case filing to final disposition of the eviction action could take up to 90 days,” said Turner.

According to Turner, the records can contain relevant information for his clients.

“They see it as important,” Turner said. “To be able to see that record and judge somebody’s housing worthiness in the future is important and that is one of the things a lot of landlords and folks in the industry look to as to whether there will be success for that person down the road.”