This article tells you what to expect after you’ve gone to court in an eviction case. If you’ve gotten a notice to quit or demand for possession, see Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start? If you’re getting ready to go to court on an eviction case, see Going to Court in Eviction Cases.
At the end of an eviction trial, the judge or jury will decide what should happen. They will decide whether you have to move, if you owe any money, and if so, how much. That decision is based on who has the most believable evidence. Sometimes there can be a mixed result. The judge or jury can find some things in favor of both you and your landlord.
If one party clearly wins, that party can ask that the other party pay some of the costs for the case, but not lawyer's fees. The amount of costs is determined by the law.
The judgment will say if you have to move or if you can stay in the home. It will also say whether you owe the landlord any money, and, if so, how much. The judgment might say that you can stay, but only if you do something specific by a date. An example could be you must pay your landlord or remove a health hazard from the property. If you don’t do what is required, then you’ll have to move.
Either you or your landlord have a 10-day period after the judgment is issued to file an appeal if you think the judgment is wrong. If you want to appeal the judgment, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and a legal services office 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 will usually give you time to move. Usually you get 10 days, but you can ask for more time. It’s also different if you’re being evicted from a mobile home park. To learn more about the time you have to move if you’re evicted from a mobile home park, read Mobile Home Park Evictions - Special Rules.
A judgment in favor of your landlord must state:
As of the time of the trial, the amount of money that you owe for rent, if you’re being evicted for not paying your rent
When you have to move or pay money owed before you are evicted, if you’re being evicted for not paying your rent
Whether paying only part of the money for rent will stop the eviction
When you must move
Whether you owe any costs
That you can file a motion or appeal within 10 days
Any other orders, such as to make the home livable again or not to cause further harm to the property
A judgment in your favor must state:
That you can stay in the home because there was no reason for eviction
The amount of money you get for any counterclaims
Any costs the landlord must pay
That your landlord has 10 days to appeal the decision
The Order of Eviction
If you don’t move by the deadline or do what you are required to do in the judgment, your landlord can apply for and get an Order of Eviction. An Order of Eviction can also be called a Writ of Restitution. The judge must sign the Order before it’s valid. It tells a court officer, such as a sheriff or sheriff's deputy, to remove you and your belongings from the home, and gives your landlord possession of the home. A judge can only issue an Order of Eviction after a judgment is issued.
In most cases, the judge must wait 10 days after a judgment against you to sign an Order of Eviction. But, the judge may sign an immediate Order of Eviction if:
- You took possession by force or trespass;
- You caused a serious and continuing health hazard to your home; or
- Your home is subject to state inspection and ordered vacated.
You will usually get 24 hours' notice that the eviction order has been issued. Evictions happen any time of year, regardless of the weather. Your local legal services office may be able to help you if you are facing an eviction. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a legal services office in your area.
Your landlord must ask for the eviction order within 56 days of the judgment. Your landlord must have the eviction carried out within 56 days of the date the eviction order is issued.
After a court issues an Order of Eviction, it is very hard for a tenant to avoid eviction. It is important to get legal help before this point. There are only a few reasons a tenant can defeat an eviction order – there must be a clear error in some part of the process, such as your landlord having accepted or refused to accept payment of the judgment total. If you think this applies to you, you should immediately call a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and a legal services office in your area.