Eviction Representation Project (ERP)
The goal of the ERP is to engage and train volunteer lawyers to provide full representation legal services to as many tenants going through an eviction as possible on an ongoing basis. Research has shown tenants who are represented in Housing Court do much better than tenants who represent themselves. VLN seeks to support ERP volunteers interested in doing work in Anoka, Hennepin and Ramsey counties. On demand training and resources are linked above.
If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, please contact Sebastian.
A Step-by-Step Overview to Eviction Representation: And an update on COVID changes which make it easier for volunteers to take cases full rep.
There are several ways to get connected to an Eviction Representation Case:
- Taking on a case full rep that you advised on during housing court clinic
- Taking on a case full rep that you advised on during a phone advice shift
- Choosing a case that is emailed out to our list of volunteers
Here are step-by-step instructions for a full rep eviction representation case once it is assigned to you:
- Review initial paperwork: Once a volunteer attorney decides to take an eviction representation case, VLN will send the attorney the contact and demographic information for the client, all the documents filed with the court in the eviction, and any other paperwork or documentation the tenant has provided for the attorney.
- Interview client and enter into representation agreement: Next, the volunteer attorney interviews the client and enters into a representation agreement. VLN uses digitally signed representation agreements. With the volunteer’s approval, VLN will email the agreement to the volunteer, who will review and approve it first, and then email it to the client for review and signature. There is some important information to elicit during the interview with your client
- What does the client ultimately want for an outcome (to stay or leave)
- Does the client want to attempt to settle the case and what does the client want in a settlement?
- Review the Defense checklist. Look for common legal defenses such as service issues or eviction moratorium protection.
- Attend the initial appearance (if applicable): This is the first bite at the apple. There are 3 possible paths at the initial appearance and moving forward. Which path you pursue depends on the facts and your clients wishes. Most importantly, you can pursue each path at the same time. For example, a case with a good service issue can lead to dismissal, but may also be used in settlement negotiations. Here are the 3 options:
- Get the case dismissed. Argue before the judicial referee or judge at the initial appearance that the case should be dismissed. If dismissed, always request the court expunge the case.
- Negotiate a settlement. Advise your client based on the situation and negotiate with the opposing side. Settlement may include entering a payment plan, agreeing to a move out date, and possible getting money for your client to leave (cash for keys). Always ask to have the case expunged as part of the settlement, and for the landlord to provide neutral/positive references for your client.
- Fight the eviction at trial. Most of the moratorium exceptions are fact-intensive. What is significant property damage? What is seriously endangering the safety of others? Does the landlord “need” to move in? Make the other side prove their case in court. This also gives your client additional time in the unit if the case is set for trial.
We’re hopeful that this step-by-step overview of the process will help encourage new volunteers to give eviction representation a try! VLN staff thinks full rep eviction representation is a great way for make an immediate and real impact on a tenant’s life.