What do these papers mean?
Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court (COVID-19 Rental Debt)(form SC-500)
If you received a Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court (COVID-19 Rental Debt) (form SC-500), your landlord is suing you for COVID-19 rental debt in small claims court. The court set a date to hear from you and your landlord (a trial) before it makes a decision.
Trial date and time
The date, time, and location are on the first page.
Who's suing you
Your landlord's name is listed on page 2. If your landlord is a business, then an employee, like the property manager, may be the person who shows up in court.
How much money is your landlord asking for?
Item 3 lists the amount of COVID-19 rental debt your landlord is suing you for. Item 4 lists what your landlord has already been paid.
What you can do
Agree with the other side
If you can work with your landlord (and there is no restraining order involved), you may be able to agree on your own without going to court.
Go to your court date
If you disagree with all or some of what your landlord is saying or you have some other defense, you can go to the court date and give your side of the story. For example, you can explain if the amount your landlord is asking for is wrong. There isn't a form to file to respond. You can just show up on the court date. You can ask a lawyer for advice before your court date, but you can't have a lawyer in court (nor can your landlord).
Sue the other side back and go to the court date
If you think your landlord owes you money (for example, they owe you money from your security deposit), you can fill out, file, and serve a Defendant’s Claim and ORDER to Go to Small Claims Court (form SC-120). Then you can go to the court date and give your side of the story. If you can’t afford the filing fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.
Choose not to show up in court
If you were given the forms (served) correctly and don’t go to the court date, the judge will decide without your input. You'll probably lose the case and owe your landlord money.
Explore your options
Once you decide if and how you’re going to react to the other side’s papers, go to the step-by-step instructions.
Keep in mind that you may have to do something quickly. If you’re going to file a Defendant’s Claim, there's a deadline you'll need to meet.