Before you start
If you need help
Contact a Small Claims Advisor. Most courts have a Small Claims Advisor, someone who gives free legal information about small claims cases. You can also get a lot of information in COVID-19 Rental Debt in Small Claims Court (form SC-500-INFO)
Write down what you did to help your tenant obtain government rental assistance
If you're owed COVID-19 rental debt, you will need to show that you made a good faith effort to help your tenant obtain rental assistance before filing a small claims case. This can mean investigating whether any programs are still accepting applications.
How to fill out forms to start a small claims case
Fill out forms
You must fill out:
- Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court (COVID-19 Rental Debt) (form SC-500)
This form tells the court who you are, who you're suing, how much COVID-19 rental debt you're owed, and why you're suing in this county. You'll need to list how much rental debt your tenant owes for each month and any money you've already been paid.
On this form, you must list the proper legal name of your tenant (called the defendant). If you don't, you might not be able to collect the money if you win. Learn how to name the Defendant.
If you need more space to add other plaintiffs or are suing more defendants, also fill out:
- Other Plaintiffs or Defendants (COVID-19 Rental Debt) (form SC-500A)
If you are a business with a Fictitious Business Name, also fill out:
Generally in a small claims case, you must go to court to represent yourself. You can't have a lawyer represent you. There are a few exceptions when you can have someone else (not a lawyer) represent you. For example, if you own a rental property and have a property manager, you can have your property manager represent you in small claims court.
- Fictitious Business Name (Small Claims) (form SC-103)
Have your property manager fill out and sign an Authorization to Appear (form SC-109)
Give proof of efforts to help tenant obtain rental assistance
Attach any papers you have that show you tried to help your tenant obtain rental assistance or describe what you did. This could be a copy of any emails or texts you've sent or notes you took while on the phone.
Find out if there are any local forms to fill out
Some courts have additional local forms they require you to use.
Contact your court clerk’s office, check your court’s website, or talk to the Small Claims Advisor to ask if they have any local forms you need to use.
Make copies of your forms
Make 1 copy for you and 1 copy for each tenant you’re suing. So you’ll have the original and at least 2 copies.
After you've filled out and made copies of your forms, you will need to file them with the court.