Making the decision to file for a forcible eviction can be difficult. Most people are compassionate enough to realize that as hard as it is to have a tenant not following the rules or paying rent, it is also hard on the tenant to be tossed out of the place they call home. Once you have come to the conclusion that it's time to stop letting a tenant's hardships effect you and your family, you'll need to know what to expect. Here is how eviction cases usually proceed.
After you File
You've served papers to the tenant, mailed a certified copy of service paperwork, and paid your filing fee with the court. Your court date is approaching, and that appointment can go one of two ways. Either the tenant will agree that they are in violation of their lease agreement and be ordered to vacate the property within a predetermined number of days, which varies by state, or they will argue that they should not have to leave. There are two main arguments for eviction cases.
- The tenant may disagree that they have to leave based on lease violations or nonpayment. They may attempt to provide proof that they have not violated the lease or that they have paid their rent.
- The tenant may disagree with the eviction notice because they feel the property is uninhabitable.
If your tenants disagree with your reason for asking them to leave they will be told to file an answer with the court, and a trial will be set. Having an understanding of eviction law and the documents that you will need to prove your case can help you to better prepare for trial.
If You Go to Trial
It sounds like every landlord's nightmare, but going to trial in an eviction case doesn't have to be overwhelming. Prepare your case ahead of time. Provide a copy of your receipt book or bank statement, for example, to the tenant or their legal team, and the judge to demonstrate that you have not received rent payments. Provide pictures of damages, copies of police reports or code enforcement violations for things like noise complaints or failure to keep up the yard. Don't forget to bring a copy of the signed lease. Clearly demonstrating to the court a legal reason for eviction nearly always results in victory for landlords.
A little organization goes a long way in eviction cases. Keeping clear records and documenting violations will be important in your case. Filing for a forcible eviction does not have to overwhelming. As long as you have clear documentation and know what to expect, you can establish a clear case against your tenant.