What happens if you lose your eviction case

When the judge makes a decision in an eviction case, it's called a judgment. The judgment may happen after a trial. Or, it may happen without your input if you didn't file an Answer. This is called a default. If the judge decides against you, you may have options for what to do next.

If the judge decides you have to move

If the judge (or a jury) decides the landlord has the right to evict you, the judge will give the landlord a Judgment of Possession. They may also order you to pay back rent, damages, penalties, and costs, like filing fees and attorney fees (if this is in the rental agreement).

  • The court will give the landlord a Judgment of Possession (form UD-110). This gives the landlord control (possession) of the property.
  • Then, the landlord will fill it out and have the court clerk issue a Writ of Execution (form EJ-130). They take the Writ to the sheriff’s office. This gives the sheriff permission to lock you out of your home.
  • The sheriff will serve you with a Notice to Vacate (notice to move from) your home. This gives you 5 days to move. If you don’t move, the sheriff will remove you from the home and lock you out.

What you can do now

Plan to move out

You can move out immediately, but you may have a bit of extra time depending on your situation.

If you need more time than the Notice to Vacate gives you

You can ask the court for more time to move out (called a stay of execution) if you have a good reason that you need more time. 

Learn how to ask the court for more time to move

You will owe your landlord money for each day you stay after the judge ordered you to move out. 

If you missed your court date

You can sometimes ask the court for a do-over called a set aside if, for example, you missed your court date because you had a medical or some other emergency. 

Learn more about setting aside a judgment

If you were approved for government rental assistance, you ask to stop the eviction if it's based on unpaid rent

If your landlord is trying to evict you for unpaid rent and you were approved for government rental assistance, fill out and file an Application to Prevent Forfeiture Due to COVID-19 Rental Debt (form UD-125). This can stop the eviction process. 

If you owe your landlord money

If you lost your case, you’ll have to move from your home. The judge may also order you to pay the past due rent. If that happens you can:

Pay the past due rent

After you paid everything you owed, make sure your landlord files an Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (form EJ-100). This is proof you paid the debt. It will show up on your credit report. If you need to buy something on credit, this will show whoever’s loaning you money that you paid your debt.

Ask for a payment plan

If your landlord will agree to a payment plan, write up your agreement about how much you’re going to pay and when, so there’s no confusion in the future.

If your landlord won't agree to a payment plan, you can try filing papers asking a judge to let you. This is called filing a motion. There's no court form for this, so most people need legal help to do it correctly. Contact your local Legal Aid, Law Library, court Self-Help Center to see if they can help.  

Choose to not pay

If you don't pay, your landlord has a legal option to take the money out of your paycheck (called wage garnishment) or your bank account (a bank levy). 

  • In wage garnishment, your landlord can take about 25% of your paycheck until you’ve paid your entire balance.
  • Your credit will be damaged so you may have trouble buying things on credit (like a car or house). You may be denied credit or pay a higher interest rate than people with good credit. 
  • If a new landlord runs a credit report on you, they’ll see there is an eviction with an unpaid judgment. This can hurt your chance of renting a place you want.

There are some situations where you may be able to stop or limit what's taken from your pay or bank account. Some kinds of money can't be taken from your pay or bank (it's exempt). For example, the money you need to support you and your family's basic needs or money from Social Security is exempt. If your money is exempt, you can make a claim of exemption. 

Learn more about claims of exemptions

If you think the judge did not follow the law

If you think the judge didn't follow the law, you can ask for an appeal. An appeal doesn't stop the sheriff from moving you out of the house while you wait for the appeal. Talk to an attorney if you're considering an appeal.

Learn more about appeals

Unless you appeal or ask for a set aside in your case, this is the last step in an eviction case and the judge's decision is final.

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