How do I prepare for eviction court?

The first thing you want to do is prepare your evidence. And to do that, you’re going to have to collect a LOT of documents:

  • Your lease

  • Receipts from all your rent payments

  • Letters, texts, emails, or other papers between you and your landlord

  • Pictures of the condition of your home

Make sure all these documents are printed. In order for the court to accept evidence, they have to be able to keep it. So if you have pictures or text messages on your phone or computer (like in your social media accounts), print them off -- otherwise, the court will keep your phone or computer for evidence.

The next thing you want to prepare is any witness who can speak on your behalf. Witnesses are people who have been around for your interactions with your landlord, or who can speak to your relationship with them. They could include:

  • Family members

  • Friends

  • Neighbors

  • Even your landlord

During your hearing, you will have the right to ask these witnesses questions that may help your case. BUT your landlord will also be able to ask them questions. This is called “cross-examining.” And it works the other way, too. If your landlord calls a witness to ask questions, you have the right to cross-examine them by asking your own questions.

Your witness will have to attend the hearing. If they refuse to come, you can force them by filing paperwork in court called a “subpoena.” This is basically a document from the court that orders this person to come and testify, and you can require them to bring certain documents if you specify what you want.

Lastly, make sure you dress professionally, and be sure to address the judge as “Your Honor.” These are simple ways to present yourself in the best way possible while in the courtroom.