What to expect at a hearing

Once a landlord tenant complaint is filed in the local courthouse, a hearing date will be set. The hearing will be scheduled no later than 15 days from filing. The local sheriff or constable will then serve the tenant with the complaint and hearing notice, either personally or by posting them conspicuously on the property.

When you get to court, the landlord has the burden of showing that the tenant should be evicted (either for non-payment of rent, termination of the terms, or breach of the lease). Furthermore, the landlord has the burden of showing any damages, including rent due and owing, legal fees, and damages to the property. The tenant may then present and defenses or arguments against what the landlord is claiming.

The landlord will testify first. The tenant (or his attorney) then has the right to cross-examine the landlord. This means that the tenant has the right to ask the landlord questions. The landlord may call additional witnesses. The landlord may only ask the witnesses questions rather than have a conversation. The tenant has the right to cross-examine each of those witnesses as well. After the landlord rests his case, the tenant may then testify and call his own witnesses. The landlord then has the right to cross-examine those witnesses. Finally, the landlord may present rebuttal testimony.

If the tenant filed a cross-complaint, then the tenant has the burden of proving this during he and his witnesses are testifying.

It is recommended that you hire an experienced attorney as the rules of Court are very complex. The Rules of Evidence apply and you may be prejudiced if the other party has an attorney and you do not.