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Eviction actions seek the eviction of the tenant and the repossession of the rental property. They may also be filed if the tenant misrepresented information to the landlord or has unauthorized occupants in the residence.
- Eviction Actions
Most eviction actions involve an allegation that the tenant has not paid rent on time. If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can give notice that he will terminate the lease if the rent is not paid within five days. After the 5-day notice, the landlord will most likely not be willing to accept partial payment because he will not be able to proceed with the case unless the tenant agrees in writing that the landlord can do so.
On day six, the landlord can file suit. The tenant's inability to pay the rent is not a legal defense to the lawsuit. However, the tenant does have some options. The tenant can pay all of the rent and any late fees any time before the lawsuit is filed and avoid eviction. If the eviction action has been filed, then the tenant must pay all past due rent, late fees, attorney's fees and court costs. If the tenant does so before a judgment is entered, he can avoid eviction. After a judgment has been entered, reinstatement of the lease is solely in the landlord's discretion.
As a general rule, the only defense to an allegation of nonpayment of rent is that the rent was actually paid, in the manner and in the amount provided in the lease.
- Eviction Trials
Eviction cases are similar to other kinds of lawsuits; however, they move through the court system very quickly. A trial will occur on the date listed on the summons. However, if the tenant fails to appear, and the landlord or his attorney is present, then a judgment will most likely be entered against the tenant.
At the date and time listed on the summons, the justice of the peace will start calling cases. If both parties are there, the judge will ask the tenant whether the complaint is true. If the tenant says that the complaint is untrue, then the tenant will need to briefly tell the judge why. If the reason appears to be a legal defense, then the judge will need to take testimony from both sides and make a decision after a trial. If either side needs a delay, they may ask for it, but continuances will be granted for no more than three business days. A tenant can avoid the hassle, expense and embarrassment associated with a writ of restitution by turning in the keys to the landlord. Doing so ends the tenant's possession of the residence.
- Eviction Appeals
A tenant may appeal an eviction (forcible detainer) judgment to superior court. Within five days from the date of the judgment, the tenant must do the following.
• File a Notice of Appeal
• File a Designation of Record
• Pay an appeal fee or file a request for a waiver of that fee
• In some cases, post a cost bond or file an affidavit in lieu of that bond.
If the tenant wants to stop the execution of the judgment and/or the eviction process, then he must also file a supersedeas bond. Find out more.
Complaint & Summons Instructions