How Should You Conduct an Eviction Procedure?

Eviction lawsuits are filed in a small claims court or in a formal trial court (called "municipal," “county,” or “justice”). A few states have independent landlord-tenant courts in larger cities, specifically set up to deal with evictions. Some states let landlords choose where to file; others restrict eviction lawsuits to a specific court. Call the clerk of your local small claims court to find out whether it handles evictions.

If small claims court is an option, it is usually best for eviction because of its speed and simple procedures. If you really want to (or if the court will not allow attorneys there anyway), you can go without a lawyer and save money on those fees. Your main job will be to gather evidence to persuade the court to believe your side of the story. But if your state's small claims court allows lawyers to appear in court, you might want to use one.

Eviction lawsuits are tricky, and it may be more effective to hire a professional. You can always get help from an attorney; what some states forbid is for litigants to actually bring lawyers to small claims court to present their cases for them.

If small claims court is not an option, you will have even more reason to hire a lawyer. A regular court is far more complex, with more rules about what kind of evidence can be submitted, and more procedural steps to get to a resolution.