Filing a Suit in a Landlord-Tenant Case

If you are a landlord and you are having problems with a tenant, you must provide notice to the tenant to correct the problem, pay rent, or to move out. Depending on your situation, you should file the appropriate form according to the guidelines below:

  • For failure to pay rent, use the Demand for Possession, Nonpayment of Rent form (Form DC100a)
  • If the tenant has caused a health hazard or damaged the property, use the Notice To Quit, Health Hazard/Injury to Premises form (Form DC100b)
  • If the tenant owns a mobile home and is renting the lot from you, use the Notice to Quit, Mobile Home Park-Mobile Home Owner form (Form DC100d)

For all other situations, use the Notice to Quit, Termination of Tenancy form (Form DC100c)

If you have filed a Notice to Quit and the tenant has failed to comply with your request, you may file a complaint with the court asking the court to award you possession of the premises or a monetary judgment for damages. There is a fee for filing a complaint in District Court. After you file a complaint form, the court will issue a summons. The defendant must be served with both a copy of the complaint and the summons.

If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff and the defendant does not comply with the judgment within the specified timeframe, the plaintiff can apply for eviction by filing an Order of Eviction (Form DC107) with the court. An Order of Eviction cannot be issued if any part of the amount due under the judgment has been paid, except under special circumstances. Once an Order of Eviction is entered, it must be served on the defendant by an appointed court officer.


If You Receive a Notice or a Complaint

If you are a tenant and you have been served with a Notice to Quit or a demand for payment of rent, you may respond either by complying with the request in the notice or by disputing the notice. If you dispute the notice, you must file your dispute with the District Court.

If you are served with a summons and complaint, you must appear and answer the complaint by the date on the summons. You can appear and answer by either filing a written answer/motion and serving the plaintiff with that answer/motion or orally answering each allegation in the complaint at the hearing. You are entitled to a jury trial, but you must request it and pay a jury fee of $50 when you make your first appearance. You also have the right to be represented by an attorney.

If you do not appear and answer as required, the court may enter a default judgment against you, which means the judge may grant a judgment for the plaintiff without hearing from you. If a default judgment has already been entered, you may file a Motion to Set Aside Default and Order within 10 days after the default was entered in a landlord-tenant case.