The filing fee for court actions, including eviction actions, is $322. The fee applies to both plaintiff and defendants, and landlords and tenants, for the first document filed each party in a case. If a tenant does not file anything and orally presents an answer or response to the landlord’s complaint, the court does not assess a fee to the tenant. Low income persons can request a fee waiver by filing an in forma pauperis application.
In Hennepin County, the move to e-filing at first required more steps for attorneys filing an answer with an in forma pauperis fee waiver: (1) preparation of the answer for signature by the attorney and the tenant if it is a verified answer, (2) presentation of the documents to the Housing Court office on the Third Floor of the Courts Tower of the Hennepin County Government Center for review by the referee, (3) after issuance of the an order granting in forma pauperis status, e-filing the documents along with the order on the Second Floor or back at the attorney’s office, and (4) appearing at the arraignment on the Third Floor. All visitors to the Third Floor must go through a security check point that can have a large line. Since this process can be time consuming, counsel should plan to complete e-filing the day before the arraignment.
Recently, the Hennepin County Housing Court began accepting both the answer and in forma pauperis affidavit by e-filing. Counsel should be careful to list the affidavit as a confidential document, while the answer is a public document. Given the delays involved with e-filing, counsel should plan to complete e-filing the day before the arraignment.
There have been a number of in forma pauperis orders issued by the new referee in Hennepin County that have required tenants to pay part of the filing or sheriff service fees even though they meet the statutory requirements for a fee waiver, such as receipt of means-tested public assistance, representation by a civil legal services program or volunteer attorney program based on indigency, or family income less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Line. Low-income tenants should be as complete as possible about income and expenses, including completing the second page of the affidavit, and even attaching a more detailed list of expenses than listed in the form. Below is a link for a table that can be attached to the affidavit.
IFP Exhibit 1: Debt and Expenses Table
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