Minnesota Appeals Court Rules County Can’t Evict Homeowner
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota appeals court says a county housing court lacked the authority to evict a woman from her Minneapolis home.
Hennepin County's housing court used the state's public nuisance law to kick Sandra Hart, 62, out of the house she owns because of alleged drug and prostitution activity, the Star Tribune reported .
"I don't even have a mortgage on the house," Hart said. "I've never hurt anybody or been convicted of these crimes. How do they have the right to kick me out? I've been through hell."
Police have been called to Hart's home more than 100 times since 2014, the county said. One incident involved an undercover operation where a resident at Hart's home was arrested for prostitution. Another call involved police chasing a methamphetamine dealer out of the house.
Court documents show that Hart has disputed claims of drug use and other illegal activity at her residence, blaming her neighbors for causing trouble.
Hart, her son and three toy poodles have lived in hotels, with friends, in a van and in a tent in a park over the past 11 months.
The state Court of Appeals ruled last week that the housing court isn't allowed to hear cases about owner-occupied homes. The housing court is meant to focus on residential rental housing and therefore lacked the authority to evict Hart, the appeals court said.
"The county's action seemed pretty extreme," said Jonathan Drewes, Hart's attorney. "I think the Court of Appeals was concerned the process lacked enough safeguards."
But County Attorney Mike Freeman, who helped create the law in the mid-1990s, said it's been used in dozens of homeowner and commercial property cases without being challenged legally. The law was intended to help landlords who are intimated by tenants and overwhelmed property owners, he said.