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What Happens on the Day of Trial for Landlord/Tenant?

Question and Answer

What Happens on the Day of Trial for Landlord/Tenant?

Both the tenant and landlord must come to court at the time and date stated on the summons unless otherwise notified by the court. Bring all evidence and witnesses needed to present your case. If both the landlord and tenant appear, they might first be required to meet with a court approved mediator or settlor in an attempt to settle the case. This person is not a judge and will try to help the landlord and tenant settle their case.

If an agreement is reached, agreement or settlement forms are available so that the agreement can be put in writing. It must be reviewed and/or approved by the judge when the tenant has no attorney representing them and it concerns residential property.

Both the landlord and tenant will be able to present their case to the judge if they are unable to settle their case. If the judge decides in favor of the tenant, the case will be dismissed. If the judge decides in favor of the landlord, a "judgment for possession" will be granted. A judgment for possession is a court order that allows the landlord, within specific time limits, to have the tenant removed from the property (evicted) by a Special Civil Part Officer.

If the landlord fails to appear at the scheduled date and time, the case will be dismissed against the landlord. If the tenant fails to appear at the scheduled date and time, the landlord will obtain a default, which means that the court is deciding in favor of the landlord. After the default, if the landlord files the required certification forms, the landlord will obtain a default judgment for possession.

If the landlord's complaint is for non-payment of rent and the tenant offers to pay all the rent due, plus court costs, BEFORE or on the day of the court hearing, the landlord must accept the rent and the case will be dismissed. If the landlord doesn't accept the money, it can be deposited with the Office of the Special Civil Part. The judgment will not get entered and/or it will get dismissed without prejudice and the tenant does not have to move out of the property. If the landlord’s complaint is for non-payment of rent and the residential tenant pays all of the rent due and owing, plus proper costs, within three business days after they are evicted, the landlord must accept and advise the court to dismiss the case with prejudice. The landlord can be subject to a statutory penalty of $500 if they fail to accept full payment, plus any proper court costs, fail to cooperate with a charitable organization or rental assistance program that had committed to pay the tenant’s rent and/or fails to notify the court to dismiss the case with prejudice