What to Say When You're in Court for Eviction

George Simons

October 14, 2021

Creditors coming for old debts ^

Summary: Are you being taken to court for an eviction? Find out what you can do to stop it by knowing what to say when you're in court for eviction.

If you are facing an eviction, you're probably thinking about what you can do and how to stop it. Below is important information to know about eviction and what to say when you're in court.

First, remember that the landlord cannot evict you from the house without terminating the lease first. This means you have to be given enough written notice so that you know that you're being evicted and you have time to respond and move out. If you don't satisfy the landlord, he can file an eviction lawsuit and take you to court.

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Grounds for eviction

A landlord may consider filing a lawsuit for eviction for various reasons. Here are some common examples:

  • Failure to pay rent. Most states provide you with three or five days from the date of one-yearwritten notice before the landlord can move forward with the eviction.
  • Not following the lease. The landlord may want to evict you because you had pets in the property or had guests move in and stay for months. You will usually have a few days or weeks to cure the violation or he or she will move forward with the eviction lawsuit.
  • Unconditional quit notice. This is for the worst violations of a lease, such as not paying rent for several months, causing serious damage, or engage in drug dealing on the property.

When a landlord may file an eviction lawsuit

After you have been notified that the landlord plans to move forward with an eviction, the landlord needs to give you a summons for an eviction lawsuit. He or she will have you served with notice so that the eviction can proceed.

The civil court will set a time and date for the hearing in front of a judge. You need to show up for the eviction hearing and present your case. If you don't appear, the judge will issue a summary judgment and the eviction will move forward. Remember that you always need to show up in court to present your facts if you want to stop the eviction.

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What you can say during the eviction hearing

If you are taken to court for your eviction, you need to think carefully about how to present your case in the best light. Much depends on the facts of the case. You cannot just say that you lost your job and can't pay rent, or you'll be evicted for certain.

Sometimes you can present facts that show the landlord is wrong. For example, he may argue that you didn't pay rent several times. But if you have proof of payment for all of the months of the lease, you can present this information to the judge and explain that you paid rent on time.

Or, you may have a lawyer review the lawsuit documents and how the lawsuit was served and find out that the landlord didn't follow the law. If that is the case, you should explain in court that the landlord didn't follow certain rules so the eviction is invalid. You would file a motion to dismiss in this case.

Another possibility is to prove that the landlord didn't keep the home or apartment in a livable condition according to local rules and regulations. If you can prove that the home is unsafe, the judge may put aside the eviction.

Lease termination without cause

Even if you are not in violation of the rental agreement and paid on time, the landlord may be able to have you move out if you are not on a fixed-term lease. While many people are on one year leases, there are situations where the tenant doesn't have a lease. In that case, he can have you move out.

Usually, the landlord needs to give you 30 days or 60 days to move out even if he doesn't give you a reason.

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Role of a sheriff in an eviction

Even if your case isn't made in court and the judge allows the eviction to move forward, the landlord can't just throw you on the street that day. The landlord must have the sheriff schedule a time to come to the home and have you move out that day, including your belongings. The sheriff usually will give you notice a few days or a week before you must move out. Once the sheriff comes to the property to move you out, there is little you can do and it's best to move out.

New rules of protocols in response to COVID pandemic

Evictions have changed somewhat during the COVID-19 era. Many states have eviction moratoriums that are still in effect as of 2021. Even if there is no ban on evictions, many courts in the US have postponed hearings on matters that aren't of the highest importance, including evictions. However, most courts still take eviction cases in cases of illegal activity on the property, such as selling drugs.

Note that even if your area bans evictions for now, the landlord may be able to tack on interest, late fees and assorted penalties if you don't pay on time. If you cannot pay your rent on time, it's important to talk to your landlord to work things out.

Remember, even if you cannot be evicted right now, eventually, you will need to catch up on rent or the landlord can move forward with the eviction.

The best way to beat an eviction and to come up with the best things in court to say is to get an attorney in your corner. Experienced rental eviction attorneys can help you fight an eviction if you have good reasons for fighting the case. The most common way to fight an eviction is to prove that the landlord didn't follow the necessary rules to move forward with the case.

He needs to give you proper notice of the lawsuit, which is the most important thing. If that isn't done or the paperwork is wrong, you can make the eviction much harder. Your attorney can review the situation and let you know if you could benefit from bringing in legal representation so you can fight the eviction.

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How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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