Bogus Answer by tenant in eviction

11 Replies

what should I be prepared to do to some crazy claims a tenant that I am evicting put in their answer to my summons and complaint? Do I need to defend myself, or are they required to bear proof of such claims? 

From what I have learned judges always want written documentation, receipts, copies of lease, copies of written communication.

Originally posted by @Kimberly H. :

From what I have learned judges always want written documentation, receipts, copies of lease, copies of written communication.

 Understand that completely. But who holds the burden of proof? For example, if tenant states that something wasn't fixed for 2 weeks, do I need to prove it was? Or does tenant need to prove it was not?

It depends on your state and your individual judge.  In Texas they usually hold the landlord to a higher standard or proof. You might go and sit in  on a few to get a feel for your judge before you go before him as a plaintiff. 

Be prepared for the tenant to LIE LIE LIE and don't act like you are mad about it. It is easier said than done.

And don't ever go before a jury. Put that in your lease if it is legal in Mass.

Originally posted by @Robert P. :
Originally posted by @Kimberly H.:

From what I have learned judges always want written documentation, receipts, copies of lease, copies of written communication.

 Understand that completely. But who holds the burden of proof? For example, if tenant states that something wasn't fixed for 2 weeks, do I need to prove it was? Or does tenant need to prove it was not?

Well, something like that falls under "he said she said" and it is unclear who should be believed. So if you have proof of your position, you should definitely present that to the judge. 

From what I hear, landlords are held to a higher standard since we are assumed to be more sophisticated. If you give more info on what the eviction is for we could assist more. Like what someone above said, I recently talked to an eviction attorney, he said you never know what is going to happen with a jury, and even if you have a flat fee lawyer, you'll pay by the hour for your lawyers jury trial prep as an additional cost.

@Damon Duperre

In my experience you cannot force a tenant to waive their right to a jury trial

I have found Texas JP's to be very straight forward in dealing with evictions that deal with non-payment of rent.  Most do not want to listen to the "story".  My favorite is in Bell County.  > he wants a copy of the lease and Notice to Vacate at filing.  When court begins, he asks for the amount of rent due then turns to the defendant and ask if the money is due.  If they say yes, case is awarded to the landlord and tenant is advised to file an appeal if there is any extenuating circumstances.  In and out in under 2 minutes

512-293-3885

@Greg H.

And then there are JP's like we are dealing with in a northern Texas county that won't issue the Writ of Eviction until we can name everyone living in the house.  And then reminded us that since we purchased the house with the occupants in place and thus don't have an executed lease, we cannot enter the house without the occupants permission and thus cannot determine who lives in the house!

Oh well, off to District Court we go.

This is where accurate, consistent, and timely documentation of maintenance and management activities (as related each tenant) can save your bacon because the documentation will provide the proof regardless of who bears the burden.

@Greg H.

I have it in my lease but haven't been to court over it so I really don't know how enforceable it is. In Tarrant County they changed the rules in August 2013 so now they go less by the letter of the law and more by who they feel is in the right. I haven't been to court since then but I feel like it is probably a bad thing for landlords.

But in Tarrant county it is definitely true that the only for sure way to win an eviction is if it is for non-payment of rent. Anything else might go either way. It is hard to predict.

It's time to get your attorney involved. Good luck.
In court usually the person making the existential claim has the burden of proof. For example, if I claim that you stole my wallet, I have the burden of proof. Because it is impossible to prove that you did not steal my wallet, so it makes no sense to require the defense to prove such a claim. So you have the burden of proof to show that the money is due. One of the defenses that a tenant can make is that the money is not due because the house was not habitable because repairs were not made. So they would have to produce evidence to establish that defense. Keep in mind that testimony itself can be considered evidence. So in the case said she said scenario, the court can choose who they believe. But it is always better to back up your statements with other proof. So for example if your tenant says the refrigerator was broken, that is a form of proof, but then if they produce a picture, that is additional proof. Know if the judge finds that credible then you should be prepared to show how that is not true. You can produce records of your own and testimony of your own

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