Defending Yourself in Eviction Court

Author: Todd Christiansen | Category: Eviction Law

Most often when you go to eviction court as either a tenant or landlord, you will probably settle your case and move on.  This is what everyone prefers.  Either the tenant agrees to pay, agrees to fix the lease violation, or moves out.  Pretty simple at the end of the day.  If the two sides can’t agree on a settlement, if the facts are clear (such as nonpayment of rent), the judge will rule in favor of the landlord.

When the sides can reach an agreement and there is some disagreement over the issues of the case (such as condition of the property, lease violations, or even payment discrepancies), the judge will have the parties come back at a later date for a trial.  This is not a trial with a jury or anything fancy like that.  It is most often a larger block of time that both parties can argue their case and bring evidence to support their claims.  So how do you defend yourself in eviction court during a trial?

  • Bring lots of evidence.  Pictures, receipts, leases, and anything else that can substantiate your position.  I see so many tenants lose cases because they are unprepared.  They can’t find the lease.  They have no rent payment receipts.
  • Just like a traditional trial, the side that presents their argument the best, wins.  Rarely is there a huge fact uncovered in court.  It is mostly open to interpretation.  Prepare your case the night before, just like an eviction attorney does.  When the other side makes a statement, ask them politely to prove it with documentation.  If the tenant says he paid the rent, ask for the receipts.
  • Just like a referee in a game, the judge is human.  He can be influenced by the attitude and impressions of others, although he is supposed to be impartial.  I have seen many tenants start to argue with the judge and lose the case because he is sick of them.
  • Be on time to court, wear decent clothes, but look the part.  If you are wealthy and the tenant is poor, don’t wear your $2000 suit and $10,000 watch to court.

Eviction court can be intimidating, but it is very manageable if you believe in your case.

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