Today I’ll wrap up my series about evictions by talking about what happens when an eviction is taken to court.
If a tenant files an answer to your eviction notice, what should you do? Today I’ll cover what comes next and how to handle the process.
First, the court will give you a court date. Before that date, I recommend that you get three copies of the ledger, the work order, and the lease agreement. I also suggest creating a ‘cheat sheet’ detailing all of the tenant’s unpaid charges. This will make it easier for the judge to understand what the tenant owes so they won’t have to go through the entire ledger.
Suppose that the tenant doesn’t show up to the court date—what’s next? In that case, the judge will automatically grant the eviction and then you can file the lockout.
If the tenant does show up and hands you the keys in front of the judge, the judge won’t grant the eviction. Instead, you’ll gain possession of the property there and then, and the tenant gets to go without paying the balance and with no eviction on their record.
Sometimes, the tenant will have the money they owe, in which case, they can remain in the property and you get your rent. If it’s close to the beginning of the next month, the judge may also ask the tenant to pay the current month’s rent or to give a date when they can pay it. If they don’t end up paying, the judge will likely grant the eviction.
My goal isn’t to make someone homeless—I’m open to other solutions to the problem that brought us to court in the first place.
Other times, a payment plan can be set up, and courts often support that. If at any point the tenant falls short on the payment plan, you can call up the court, who will grant the eviction.
I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years now, and in the beginning, I was having trouble getting the judge to rule favorably or fairly; it felt like a zero-sum game. Once I watched how the pros do it, I realized that I needed to change my approach so that judges wouldn’t see me as vindictive or punitive.
Forming a relationship with the judge will also help in cases where tenants lie about things like having called in a work order when they didn’t or having answered our phone calls when they didn’t. The judge can see through these lies and rule fairly for both parties. My goal isn’t to make someone homeless—I’m open to other solutions to the problem that brought us to court in the first place.
Hopefully, this gives you a little bit more insight into what to expect if an eviction case is brought to court. If you have any questions about property management, feel free to reach out to Guardian Realty Investment & Property Management. We hope to hear from you soon!