Summary Process Eviction
The landlord in an eviction is referred to as the “plaintiff,” and the tenant as the “defendant.” The landlord is the moving party and has the burden of filing and serving all the parties necessary to invoke the power of the court to effect the eviction. The tenant, or defendant, can use the eviction process to raise any complaints he or she may have with the landlord/tenant relationship as a “counterclaim,” and to defend against improper procedures.
Ordinarily, the landlord's priorities will be some combination of being paid the rent that he or she is owed, and/or completing the eviction process as early as possible in order to vacate the premises for a new tenant or owner (in the case of a sale of the property). In either case, time is of the essence, because as time goes by the tenant is unlikely to keep current on his/her rental obligations, and in the cases of sales or where there are tenants, there is usually a deadline to get the premises cleared.
That is why it is so important to hire someone experienced in residential or commercial evictions and summary process. In eviction cases, if the tenant can find a procedural problem with the paperwork, the landlord's case can be dismissed. The landlord can re-file, but having to do so means he/she has to start over at the beginning, which can cause a serious delay in the ultimate goal of having the premises vacated.
As the tenant, you may have had a difficult relationship with your landlord. There may be building code violations that have gone unaddressed, or your landlord might have cut corners in the process of beginning the eviction. The most important thing to do is to immediately contact an attorney experienced in defending evictions. In every eviction case there are several deadlines, and they are all fast-approaching. It is important to get a lawyer involved at the very beginning so that all the deadlines can be met.
In some cases, the rent you owe can be offset by damages your landlord owes you, and if you win the case on your damages, you could find the eviction vacated because, after all is said and done, it turns out that the landlord owes you. In other cases, your landlord might have cut corners in the eviction process, which, if you uncover them, could enable you to successfully defend against the eviction, or at least use as leverage against having to pay your outstanding rent.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, there is always a lot to be won and lost in an eviction hearing. If you or someone you know is facing the process of an eviction, contact me to set up a free and confidential consultation.