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Judgments in Eviction Cases

Contents

    A judgment is the court’s final order that tells you and your landlord the decision in your case. You could end up with one of three types of judgment if your eviction case goes to court: a default judgment, a consent judgment, or a judgment after a hearing or trial.

    Default Judgment

    When your landlord starts an eviction case against you, you should get a summons and complaint. It will probably include a notice of a hearing. If you don’t go to the hearing your landlord will likely be given a default judgment.

    A judgment will be entered against you by default if you do not respond to the complaint your landlord filed with the court. A default judgment lets your landlord evict you and collect any claimed past-due rent or other relief your landlord asked for in the case.

    Some courts don’t include a court date in the summons. Instead, you have five days to respond with a written answer or the court will automatically give your landlord a default judgment. If you live in one of these districts, you must file a written response with the court and mail a copy to your landlord within five days of getting the summons and complaint. If you do not do this, you will not get a court date and the court will issue a default judgment for possession.

    After you file your answer, a hearing date will be set. Go to the hearing to avoid a default judgment.

    If a default judgment is entered against you, you can ask the judge to set aside the judgment and schedule a new hearing. Use Do-It-Yourself Motion to Set Aside Default (Eviction) to complete the forms you need. You must file your motion with the court within the 21 days after the judge issued the default judgment. You must have a good reason why you did not answer or attend the hearing. You must also have a defense to the eviction ready to present to the court.

    You may want to talk to a lawyer to see if your reasons are likely to convince the court to set aside the default judgment. Use Find a Lawyer to find lawyers and legal services in your area.

    Consent Judgment

    After your landlord has started an eviction case against you, you can talk to your landlord to try to reach an agreement. If you come to an agreement, put it in writing and have your landlord sign and date it. Understand everything in the agreement before you sign it. You can then send or bring the agreement to the court and the judge will issue a consent judgment.

    You can include any conditions you and your landlord agree upon in the agreement. You may be able to offer a partial payment of past-due rent, change the lease agreement, move from your home, or any combination of these options.

    You may still need to go to court after you agree to a consent judgment. If you don’t have a lawyer, the judge must review the judgment and tell you it can’t be enforced for three business days after it’s entered.

    A consent judgment can be enforced by either you or your landlord. If you agreed to leave your home by a certain date, you must do so to avoid your landlord asking for an Order of Eviction. If you agreed to pay money to your landlord and you don’t pay it, your landlord could garnish your wages or bank account to collect the judgment.

    Judgment after a Hearing or Trial

    If you were unable to reach an agreement with your landlord, you need to attend a hearing in court. For more information about attending the hearing, how to prepare, and what you can expect, read Going to Court in an Eviction Case.

    At the end of the trial, the judge will enter a judgment. It will say whether you have to move. It will also say whether you owe the landlord any money, and if if so, how much. The judgment might say you can stay, but only if you do something specific by a date, like pay the landlord or remove a health hazard from the property. If you don’t do what is required, your landlord could get an eviction order.

    You and your landlord have 10 days after the judgment is issued to file an appeal if either of you think the judgment is wrong. If you want to appeal the judgment, you may want to think about hiring a lawyer. Use Find a Lawyer to find lawyers and legal services in your area.

    Even if a judge enters a judgment saying you must move, your landlord cannot simply change the locks or remove your possessions from your home. A judgment should give you time to move. Usually you get 10 days, but you can ask for more time.

    It’s different if you live in a mobile home park and have gotten a termination of tenancy judgment. Read Mobile Home Park Evictions—Special Rules to learn more about the time you have to move if you’re evicted from a mobile home park.

    The judgment must say all of the following:

    • How much money you owe for rent if you’re being evicted for not paying your rent

    • The deadline for paying your rent in order to stay in the home, if you’re being evicted for not paying your rent

    • Whether paying only part of the money for rent will stop the eviction

    • Whether you can stay in the home, and if not, when you must move to avoid an eviction order

    • Any costs you or the landlord must pay

    • You or your landlord can file a motion or appeal within 10 days

    • The amount of money you get for any counterclaims

    • Whether there are other orders, such as instructions to make necessary repairs or not to cause further harm to the property

    Following the Judgment

    After a judgment is issued, you and your landlord have to follow the orders in it. If you are ordered to move out of your home and you don’t move by the time stated in the judgment, your landlord can get an Order of Eviction to remove you from your home. Your landlord can’t force you to leave until this order is issued and delivered by a Sheriff, deputy, or court officer.

    To learn more about evictions after a judgment has been issued, read Eviction After Court is Over.