So you have got your notice of eviction, or fear that it is coming down the road? First things first, you will receive a “demand for possession” notice (sometimes called a ‘notice to quit’) from your landlord. The demand for possession is a written notice sent to the tenant after 7 days of past due rent. This demand must give you a minimum of another 7 days to pay the past due rent amount before your landlord is permitted to file a summons and complaint for eviction in your local district court.
Once your landlord or his attorney has filed a complaint in court, the court will send out notice summoning you to court to hear the issues involved in this case. Warning: if you do not show up to court, the landlord can get a default judgment against you. Basically a default judgment will mean that by not appearing in court you have agreed to the landlord’s claim and you are going to vacate the premises within 10 days of the ‘order of possession’ judgment. If the landlord is successful in his eviction claim, the tenant will be subject to statutory fees and attorney fees that were incurred in the eviction process.
Typically the landlord also files with the summons and complaint a supplemental claim for the amount of past due rent as well as any other money damages. This means that if you don’t show up for court, the judge will likely grant a default judgment on both the ‘possession’ of the premises and your landlord’s claim for the past due rent.
Keep in mind that you do have a right to an attorney in eviction proceedings, if you do not have an attorney before you appear for your first court date you may ask the Judge to adjourn the proceeding to a later date so that you can consult with legal counsel before proceeding. Legal counsel is always advised, especially when it involves the roof over your head.
A note to Landlords: if you have your building in an LLC, and not in your name, you must have an attorney represent your interests at eviction proceedings. This is because only Licensed Attorneys are allowed to represent the interests of others in court, and your LLC is considered to be a separate legal entity than yourself.