If I missed a court dateregarding unpaid rent andI’m not on lease, am I still required to pay fines?

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If I missed a court dateregarding unpaid rent andI’m not on lease, am I still required to pay fines?

An ex-boyfriend and I were taken to court for unpaid rent. I thought my boyfriend was paying rent with the money our subleasers and I were giving him but he was just pocketing it. I never remember signing a lease but the landlord insisted that I did and when I asked to see a copy (since I didn’t have one) he refused and said that his attorney had it (and he won’t send a copy). I intended on going to the court date but took the wrong day off. After a year of silence my ex called and told me I wasn’t on the lease. I still have no proof. Does this make a difference now? How can I get a copy of the lease?

Asked on December 20, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fine would be for failure to appear in court, which would be unrelated to not being on the lease.  Unless you can convince the judge in a proceeding challenging the failure to appear that the fine should be rescinded due to going on the wrong day, unfortunately you would be stuck with the fine.

As for obtaining a copy of the lease, you may want to try contacting the landlord's attorney directly to request a copy of the lease.  Since you were a defendant in the case, the landlord's attorney should provide a copy of the lease.

Another option would be to go to the court and look in the court file where there may be a copy of the lease.  You could ask the court clerk to photocopy it for you.  In order to do that, you will need the case number.  If you don't know the case number, you can look in the court's computer in the plaintiff/defendant index.  Look for your name under defendants, and you will be able to obtain the case number or you could enter the landlord's name under plaintiffs and again you will be able to obtain the case number.  After you obtain the case number, complete a brief court form which the court clerk has to be able to see the file.  You won't be able to remove the file from the court, but again you could have the court clerk photocopy the lease or any other items in the case file you want.


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