Issue: Can counterclaims be brought in an eviction proceeding in Minnesota?
|Area of Law:||Litigation & Procedure, Real Estate Law|
|Keywords:||Eviction proceeding; Counterclaims|
|Cited Cases:||631 N.W.2d 444|
|Cited Statutes:||Minn. Stat. § 504B.321, § 504B.001, subd. 4|
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 504B.321, an eviction proceeding is a “summary court proceeding to remove a tenant or occupant from or otherwise recover possession of real property by the process of law.” Minn. Stat. § 504B.001, subd. 4 (2012). Its purpose is “solely for determination of the present possessory rights to property.” United Prairie Bank-Mountain Lake v. Haugen Nutrition & Equipment, LLC, A10-1342 (Minn. Ct. App. March 15, 2011). Eviction proceedings are “intended to be summary proceedings to efficiently adjudicate only a single issue—the present right to possess real property.” RedStar Capital, LLC v. Rex, A07-1873 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 9, 2008).
Because of the summary nature of the proceeding, counterclaims may not be brought in an eviction proceeding, at least when they may be brought elsewhere in a separate action. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n v. Forseth A12-0691 (Minn. Ct. App. Jan. 14, 2013) (applying “general prohibition on litigating noneviction matters in eviction proceedings”); Fraser v. Fraser, 642 N.W.2d 34, 40 (Minn. Ct. App. 2002) (same); AMRESCO Residential Mortg. Corp. v. Stange, 631 N.W.2d 444, 444 (Minn. Ct. App. 2001) (same). The AMRESCO court explained the rationale for this rule, as follows:
[When]Appellants can raise their counterclaims and equitable defenses directly in [a] separate, district court proceeding . . . , there is no evident reason to interfere with the summary nature of eviction proceedings. Using the alternate procedure instead of expanding the eviction proceeding accords with the appellate courts’ prior determinations that the district court should […]