Housing Law Clinic – 7246
The Housing Law Clinic is a three-credit, one-semester clinic on landlord-tenant law, first offered in 1997. Veteran housing attorneys from Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid work with student directors to supervise students in representing tenants facing eviction, housing repair problems, utility shutoff and lockouts, and eviction cases in their rental history in Hennepin County Housing Court.
Tight rental markets and an aging housing stock have made access to safe, decent, and affordable rental housing a significant political policy issue for many years. How this problem affects low income tenants on an individual basis is the context in which students participate in the Housing Law Clinic. Given the difficulty of tenants in finding new housing, it is critical that they are able to fight unjust evictions, utility shutoffs and lockouts, enforce housing repair and privacy standards, and stop retaliatory measures.
The Housing Law Clinic also provides a unique opportunity to handle cases from beginning to end. Housing Court cases are very active cases which move faster than many other types of civil litigation. The Housing Law Clinic cases may include interviewing, investigation, drafting pleadings, discovery, motion and trial practice, and appeals. Often students obtain final decisions or settlements in cases which they started. Some of these decisions have helped to develop the common law of landlord and tenants in Minnesota! Some cases may involve the delicate act of advising a client that the client does not have a good case. Each student may handle 2-5 cases during the semester. Several third year students are selected each year as student directors who act as the Clinic’s junior partners. The directors supervise beginning student attorneys and play a significant role in managing the Housing Law Clinic.
The two hour classroom component includes interviewing, clinic computer network training, professional responsibility, substantive housing law topics concerning the types of actions handled in the clinic, and case simulations in which students participate in interviewing, drafting, motion practice, trial and negotiation simulations patterned after real housing cases. Students also meet together for a one hour staff meeting and round table discussion on a weekly basis to discuss issues and cases, in addition to ongoing meetings with student directors and the supervising attorney in preparation for and representation in housing cases.