Eviction hearing preparation

You’ve received your court date for the eviction hearing. What do you do now?
First, if you have hired me for the eviction hearing, I will be attending the hearing.

You have probably already forwarded a copy of the lease, three day notice and ledger to your attorney. If your attorney needs any other documentation, he/she will likely let you know but feel free to bring all documentation relevant to the rental unit/tenant. You will meet your attorney at court and generally testify to the following:

1 – You own/manage the rental unit;

2 – The rental unit is located within the court’s jurisdiction;

3 – You entered into a lease agreement with the tenant(s);

4 – The tenant breached the lease in some manner (usually by not paying rent);

5 – As a result you posted a three day eviction notice on the tenant’s front door on such and such a date;

6 – As far as you know the tenant is still residing at the premises as he/she hasn’t returned the keys, has not completely vacated, or otherwise;

7 – You have not accepted rental payments since the three day notice was posted;

8 – You are requesting that the court grant you restitution of the premises.

Most courts have several other eviction hearings on your court date. The judge/magistrate wants to get to the crux of the matter and is generally not interested in great detail about how the land- lord/tenant relationship went wrong. My advice is to not volunteer information beyond the above listed points. Address the judge/magistrate at all times and not the other party.

What happens on Judge Judy is good for television ratings. In real life, judges/magistrates are not interested in yelling, shouting, pointing, extended dialogue between the parties, or television ratings.

You are going to court. Dress appropriately. Judges may take you more seriously if you present yourself seriously. Remove your hat when you enter the courtroom. Stand up when the judge enters the courtroom. Speak audibly and clearly when you testify. Watch the other cases that are called before your case. Make a note of how other parties went wrong and don’t repeat their mistakes. The hardest thing for most people is knowing when to stop talking. The tendency is for parties to just tell the judge one more thing which they think will get the judge over to their side. If they don’t get the signal that the judge is on their side then they want to tell the judge just one other thing and so on and so on.  Let the opposing party make these mistakes.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to refute every “lie” that exits the opposing party’s mouth.  If you have an attorney, follow your attorney’s cues and trust in his/her judgment concerning what should be presented to the court.

If you have additional questions, consult my guide the Ohio eviction process.