Serve the Summons and Complaint forms

After you file the Summons and Complaint and other forms, you must have someone specially deliver a copy to your tenant or tenants and other people in the home you want to evict. This is called serving papers

Before you start

Think about the best place and time to have the server deliver the forms to your tenant.
  • You don't have to serve the tenants at their home
  • You can serve them at their workplace, at another person's home, or even in public places
If you're trying to evict more than one tenant, all tenants need to be served.

How to serve the Summons and Complaint forms

  • Choose a server

    Unlike the Notice, you can't serve the Summons and Complaint and other forms yourself. Ask another adult – a server – to deliver the papers.    

    Your server must be:  

    • 18 or over, and  

    • Not part of your case  

    Your server can be:  

    • Someone you know  

    • The county sheriff (in most, not all, counties)  

    • A professional process server you hire

    If you hire a process server, look for one who is close to where your tenant lives or works. Servers usually charge based on the time it takes them to serve so this may save you money. The sheriff charges to serve papers unless you have a fee waiver. 

  • Have your server give the forms to your tenant

    Your server must find your tenant and hand them a copy of the filed papers. 

    Your server should write down the address where they gave your tenant the forms, along with the date and time. The server needs this information to fill out a Proof of Service of Summons (form POS-010) form for you. 

    Your server can leave the papers near the tenant and tell them what they are. For example, your server can leave the papers on the doorstep and say, "These are important legal papers for you." The tenant needs to be there, though, even though they won't take the forms in their hands.
    Your server can't leave the forms on the doorstep when no one's around.

    If your server can’t find the tenant at home or work when the server tries to deliver the Summons and Complaint in person, you can try 2 other ways of serving them: substituted service or service by posting. 

    Substituted service is having your server hand the legal forms to an adult in the home or who seems in charge at the tenant's work. It can even be another tenant in the home. Then your server mails a copy of the same forms to the tenant at the address where they handed someone the forms. Service isn't considered done until 10 days after your server mails the forms.  Get instructions for serving papers with substituted service.  

    Service by posting. This means the server posts the forms on your tenant's home and then mails a copy. You can only use this type of service if the court gives you permission.

    Before asking for permission, your server must first try to serve the tenant in person and by substituted service. The server must write a statement for the judge explaining when they tried to serve and why they weren't successful. The server can write their statement on form MC-030. You will need to file a request to ask the court for permission. Some Self-Help Centers may have a form you can use or you can ask for help at a law library.

    If the judge lets you serve by posting and mailing, your server has to post a copy of the Summons and Complaint on the property where the tenant will see it. Then, send another copy by certified mail to the tenant at the tenant's home address. Service is considered complete on the 10th day after the papers are mailed to the tenant.

  • Have your server fill out a Proof of Service

    Use the Proof of Service of Summons (form POS-010). 

    It helps if you fill in the top part of the form with the case and court information. 

    Your server can then fill in the information about how, when, and where they served the Summons and Complaint and related forms. Your server must date and sign at the bottom. 

    Your server should then give the Proof of Service form back to you to file with the court. 

  • File the Proof of Service form

    • Make one copy of the Proof of Service form your server filled out
    • File the original and copy at the court clerk's office

    • The court will keep the original 

    • The court will stamp and return the copy to you 

    • Keep the copy for your records 

Eviction

What's next?

Once you've served the Summons and Complaint to each tenant you're evicting, wait to see if they respond within 5 days. Responding usually means they file a form called an Answer with the court so that they can tell their side of the story at a trial.

 

If they don't respond by filing an Answer or other forms, you can ask the court to make a decision without a trial. This is called a default judgment.