I've written a lot about evictions, but most of it has focused on what to do prior to filing your case. Here are 10 things you should do (or avoid doing) after filing your eviction case that will give you the best chance of winning your case.
- Do not send any more notices. Once you’ve sent the case for filing, only bad things can happen if you send new notices. Pay special attention to any software that might auto-generate a notice each month.
- Make sure the person who gave the notice appears in court. This is the best way to dispute a tenant’s testimony that the notice was not given.
- Do not accept any rent unless you’re willing to dismiss your case and start the entire process over with a new notice. You may need to turn off online payment portals. See this post for what it means to "accept" a payment, but realize that different judges have different views on this issue.
- Do not “hold” payments. Either deposit them and dismiss the case or send them back to the tenant immediately with a note that the payment is not being accepted due to the eviction. If Section 8, the tenant, or some other program directly deposits a payment, issue reimbursement immediately and bring a copy of the reimbursement to court.
- Bring the lease, payment ledger, and notices to court. Every. Single. Time.
- Be ready to testify about the details of your case. You should know when the notice was given, the monthly rental amount, when the last payment was made, and the current balance owed.
- Don't make agreements with your tenant that are not in writing. You never want a "swearing contest" with your tenant. You want documentation of everything and to have it in court.
- If your tenant is dead, make sure your attorney knows that before the case is filed, as that changes how the case should be filed. If your tenant dies after the filing, inform your attorney ASAP to avoid a potential delay.
- If your tenant needs an interpreter, inform your attorney or the court prior to court so that one can be requested to appear in court. If you wait until the day of court, your case could be delayed.
- Inform your attorney of any changes in status of your tenant. Advise them of any payments that were offered, any notices issued by the tenant, and any discussions that you've had with the tenant.
BONUS: Read the articles on this site. The "Lessons from Eviction Court" series should be especially helpful.
As always, if you need help or would like to work together, reach out to us at email@example.com or (859) 685-0035.