Preparing For Court
Written by Connor Swalm
Preparing for court can be quite an exhaustive process. You must set aside a considerable amount of time and money in order to put together a complete set of documents that support your case. Read on for the continuation of our discussion about the eviction process and find out how to prepare yourself for your day in court.
From our first experience with filing for eviction due to a tenant who was not able to pay the rent, we found out that the eviction process takes a large amount of preparation. We started from scratch, did a lot of research on how to get things done correctly so we can make sure we are taking care of the owner’s interest. Knowing exactly the types of documents to submit and to bring to court is of utmost importance. If you are missing even a single document, it could make or break your case. In the unfortunate situation where you lose the case, not only have you lost months of work and thousands of dollars of expenses and lost revenue, you also lose the trust of the owner if you are not the owner yourself. So you should check and double check the documents that you are bringing with you and determine what additional documents that you still need to put in the document packet. Figuring these out took us a long time as we had to make sure we had everything we need. If needed, consult a Real Estate Attorney that specializes in your state’s Landlord Tenant Conde.
As stated on the Newcastle County website, you must have 3 copies of every document that you need to bring. One copy goes to the judge, one goes to the defendant, and of course, one goes to you to use as reference so you can accurately present the case that you have prepared. This also ensures that every party in the case is well informed on every detail that you present.
We would like to stress once more the importance of the 5 and 7 day letters as these are integral in the entire eviction process. I know for a fact that an incorrect 5 day letter would ruin your case. We had a judge point out a 5 day letter that we had which had something that was not allowed on a 5 day letter, and we were told that this could have invalidated our case if someone had brought it up. Remember that you can only put 3 things in that letter: past due rent, past due utilities and late fees attached to both of those. If you include anything else on your 5 day letter, it could invalidate your letter and force you to restart the eviction process.
Another thing that we learned in this process is the importance of settling outside the court. We were lucky to have a tenant who was very willing to work with us so his credit history and eviction history would remain clean. We don’t want to ruin someone’s credit history and eviction history, but we also need to keep the owner’s interests in mind. In an eviction, nobody wins, the owner loses money, the property manager loses some of their credibility (especially if they placed the tenant), and the tenant loses a clean credit and eviction history. Settling the dispute outside of court allows all parties involved to reach an amicable solution. It could be anything from paying the tenant to vacate the property to getting a stipulated agreement in front of a judge. Even just telling the tenants that we will not proceed with the eviction process if they leave within a certain period of time has worked in the past. This would make it easier for everyone involved as this would only take a short period of time so the property can be turned around quickly and the owner can save some money.
It really boils down to how well you understand the process and how prepared you are. Your level of preparedness could mean the difference between an enormously challenging court process to a smooth one where the odds are in your favor. The best case scenario would be to try and settle outside the court as this would save time and money and at the end of the day it’s going to be a win-win situation for everyone involved.