Your rights during an eviction
You will learn that your landlord started an eviction case when you are served with a Notice of Petition and Petition to go to court. As soon as you receive these documents, you should try to find a lawyer to help you.
On the first court date you can ask the judge for a 14-day adjournment (postponement) of your case. This will give you more time to find a lawyer if you don’t have one yet. It will also give you time to prepare any defenses you may have to the eviction.
It also gives you time to try to work out a settlement with your landlord. A settlement is an official agreement that both sides must follow. For example, a settlement might be an agreement that the landlord will forgive the rent you owe if you leave by a particular date. Most eviction cases end in the parties entering into a stipulation of settlement.
If the parties cannot agree to a settlement then the judge will give both sides the opportunity to provide evidence. At that time both sides get to present evidence and the judge will then make a decision and issue an order.
If the judge finds in favor of the landlord the judge will issue a warrant of eviction. This is the document that will authorize the Sheriff to remove the tenant and their belongings from the premises.
Only the Sheriff or other law enforcement official can remove you from your home. Your landlord must deliver papers from the court to the Sheriff. Then, the Sheriff will serve you a 14-day notice of eviction.
If your landlord took you to court because you did not pay your rent, you have until the end of these 14 days to pay the full amount due to avoid being evicted.
If you feel your rights have been violated, or have questions, you can search for a legal aid organization in your area here.