Notice Served First
Before an eviction suit can be instituted for termination of tenancy a Notice to Terminate Tenancy (DC 100c (PDF)) must be served upon the tenant. The time specified in the Notice must be equal to the rental payment period. Example: rent payments due on a month to month basis, require a 30 day notice in order to terminate the tenancy. Again no suit for termination of tenancy may be instituted prior to the expiration of the period set forth in the notice.
Once Period Expires
Once the notice period has expired the next step is the filing of the Complaint (DC102c (PDF)). If recovery of possession is the only remedy sought, fill in the names and addresses of the Plaintiff (landlord) and Defendant (tenant) and paragraphs 1 through 11 of the Complaint. If a judgment for money damages is also sought, see Supplementary Complaint, below.
Filing Fees & Documents
A copy of the lease, if any, and the Demand for Possession must be attached to the Complaint. The landlord must prepare a Summons (DC 12-LT-104 (PDF)), filling in the names and addresses of Plaintiff (landlord) and the Defendant (tenant) and paragraph 1. The Clerk of the Court will fill in the rest of the Summons upon filing with the 12th District Court Civil Division. The filing fees must be paid at the time the suit is filed. The documents will then be turned over to a process server.
Effective May 1, 2002, the 12th District Court has adopted a new procedure, requiring the tenant to file a written Answer after being served with the Summons and Complaint, before the case is scheduled for a hearing. The Summons, an Instruction sheet and Answer form will be given to the tenant when served with the Complaint. If the tenant desires to contest the eviction, he/she must file a written Answer within 5 days after being served. A sample of that form is available (DC 12 ANSWER (PDF)).
The tenant is instructed that the Answer must state the reason the eviction is contested. The Answer must be filed with the court within 5 days. The day of service is not counted. If the 5th day falls on a weekend or a holiday, it must be filed with the court the next business day. If an Answer is filed the case will be scheduled for a hearing within 7 days. At the hearing both parties must appear, bring any necessary witnesses, and, all documents pertaining to the tenancy, such as the lease, if any, notices, payment records or receipts. Failure of the tenant to appear will result in a judgment of possession. Failure of the landlord to appear will result in dismissal of the case.
If the tenant does not file an Answer, the landlord will be advised and a Default Notice (DC12 LT DEFAULT (PDF)) will be prepared by the Court Clerk. The Landlord must request entry of default. The Court Clerk will add the taxable costs and enter the default judgment terminating the tenancy. The Court Clerk will send a copy of the Judgment of Eviction to all the parties.
If the tenant has not vacated the premises within the 10 days an Order of Eviction (DC 107 (PDF)) will issue on the next day, authorizing the process server to physically remove the tenant.
If the landlord wishes to dismiss the lawsuit, such Request may be made on the (DC12 LT DEFAULT (PDF)) form.