A15-0496: Hinckley Square Associates, Respondent, vs. Leah D. Cervene, Appellant.
On appeal from a judgment ordering her eviction, appellant Leah Cervene argues that the district court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the complaint because 2 respondent-landlord Hinckley Square Associates (“Hinckley Square”) is a limited partnership and did not appear through licensed counsel in district court. Because we conclude that limited partnerships must be represented by counsel in district court, we reverse the district court’s judgment evicting Cervene.
Cervene also argues that the district court erred (1) in declining to dismiss the case because of Hinckley Square’s failure to give proper notices required by federal regulations and the parties’ lease; (2) in finding that she owed the full amount claimed in the complaint, despite Hinckley Square’s failure to adjust her rent obligation according to her income as required by federal regulations and the parties’ lease; and (3) in finding that Hinckley Square effectively increased her rent despite failing to give a one-rental period notice. Because we conclude that Hinckley Square should not have been allowed to appear in court without licensed counsel, we do not reach the merits of these issues.
The Appeals Court concluded that "the district court erred in allowing Hinckley Square, a limited partnership, to proceed through trial without a licensed attorney." The Court of Appeals "also conclude[d] that the participation of the nonattorneys is not a curable defect," meaning that it cannot be corrected after the fact.
The message for corporate landlords is clear: a corporate landlord, whether a corporation, partnership, or any form of business entity, must be represented by an attorney in district court. An eviction is an action in district court, and so corporate landlords must be represented by an attorney, even in an eviction. That has always been the rule, and why Hinckley Square Associates thought it didn't need an attorney is beyond me.
Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents both landlords and tenants in eviction actions, and in other litigation related to the landlord-tenant legal relationship. Please call (763) 450-9494 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation today!
WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation. Tim is licensed to practice law only in Minnesota, and the information contained in this blog post may not apply to jurisdictions outside of Minnesota. Further, reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog. To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.