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What happens at an eviction hearing?

Eviction hearings are civil court proceedings held by a judge or a magistrate. The hearing may be held in a courtroom, or, sometimes, in an office.

The landlord must be present for the case to proceed. The tenant is not required by law to appear, but should if they want to present evidence, argue the case, or even just ask for more time to move. The landlord, the tenant, or both may be represented by an attorney. The parties may bring witnesses, too.

The judge or magistrate will have everyone who is going to testify swear or affirm that they will tell the truth. Next, the judge or magistrate will listen to testimony and take evidence. The landlord speaks first. The tenant may cross-examine the landlord and the landlord’s witnesses. Then, the tenant presents their evidence, which may include documents, testimony and witnesses. The landlord has the right to cross-examine the tenant and the tenant’s witnesses.

After the evidence is presented, the judge or magistrate usually will tell the parties the decision in the case right away. If the case is complicated, the judge or magistrate may say the case is “heard and submitted,” and issue a decision by mail. If the case is heard by a magistrate, the magistrate issues a recommended decision, which is sent to the judge for review and approval.

If the landlord wins the case, the landlord may schedule a court-supervised move out. The amount of time allowed for a tenant to move following an eviction depends on the city, but generally ranges from 7-14 days (could be even faster in some places).

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