Your landlord and you will be sworn in as witnesses.
At the trial, the landlord should tell the judge what notice he gave you and why he wants you evicted.
Before anything else happens, you should tell the judge if you think the landlord's notice was defective. This is the time to tell the judge if the landlord:
- did not give you enough notice, or
- accepted your rent after the Notice to Vacate, or
- filed his Rule for Possession before the time in the Notice to Vacate ended.
If the judge finds that the landlord's notice was defective, he should dismiss the eviction and make your landlord start the eviction process all over.
If the landlord's notice is OK, testimony and argument on the eviction should begin.
If you failed to pay rent, the landlord will simply testify that you did not pay the rent or that you did not pay it on time. If the eviction is for a lease violation, the landlord and his witnesses will testify as to facts that support the lease violation. Your landlord is not allowed to testify about what other people told him if those people aren’t in court to testify. This is called “hearsay” and it is not allowed.
You have the right to ask the landlord and his witnesses questions that help show that the landlord's claim or story is wrong. You can also ask them questions that help support your defenses or your story of what happened. This is called "cross-examination."
After the landlord has completed his case, it is your turn to put on your case. This is the time to speak up for yourself and your family. Don't be bullied or railroaded into silence by the judge. You have the right to testify as to facts that will support your defenses. You may have witnesses testify on your behalf. You may submit papers that help prove your case.
It is easy to get nervous at a trial. So, before the trial, you should make a short list of all the important facts that support the defenses that you claimed in your written answer. Before you quit, make sure you or your witnesses have told the judge about each of the facts that support your defenses. Also, make sure that you have submitted any papers to the judge that support your case.
If you have a lease, you should always bring the original and 2 copies to the trial. Believe it or not, many landlords do not bring a copy of the lease to the trial. If this happens, it may be because your landlord thinks the lease will hurt his case or require the judge to rule in your favor. If the case involves a lease violation, a copy of the lease should be given to the judge.
In most evictions, the judge makes his decision at the end of the trial and in the presence of the landlord and you. If he rules in the landlord's favor, he will sign a judgment ordering your eviction. If he rules in your favor, you should ask him for a written judgment dismissing the eviction.
Warning: If you do not appear for your trial, the judge will rule in your landlord's favor and order you evicted. Even if you have moved out you should go to court and tell the judge so you don’t end up with an eviction on your record. Be on time for your trial.