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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

    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.

    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. Go to the hearing to avoid a default judgment.

    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 find you in default. 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 court to set aside the judgment and schedule a new hearing. To do this, submit a Motion and Affidavit to Set Aside Default form to the court within the 10 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. See the Find a Lawyer section of this site to find help 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 terms.

    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 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, see the article 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 or if you can stay in the home. It will also say if you owe the landlord any money and 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, then the 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. Look at the “Find a Lawyer” section of this page to find one 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 also different if you live in a mobile home park and have gotten a termination of tenancy judgment. See the article Mobile Home Park Evictions - Special Rules for information about the time you have to move if you’re evicted from a mobile home park.

    The judgment must state:

    • 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 or not 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;

    • That you or your landlord can file a motion or appeal within 10 days;

    • The amount of money you get for any counterclaims; and

    • Any 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.

    For more information about evictions after a Judgment has been issued, read the article Eviction After Court is Over.