Tips for Winning Your Eviction Lawsuit

No matter how careful you are as a landlord, there is a decent chance you will eventually face the unpleasant prospect of having to go to court to evict a tenant.  Proper planning for that event begins with tenant screening process and continues through preparation for trial on the merits.  Here are some tips on how to maximize the chances of success if a court proceeding becomes necessary. 

Tenant Screening

A successful eviction starts with the tenant screening process.  Be sure to have the applicant complete a rental application that verifies the person’s identity, rental history, etc., before you rent. You should also conduct a thorough tenant background check, including a credit check, on every applicant.

Good Record Keeping FromThe Outset

Having an organized tenant file that contains all the pertinent information on the tenant is an essential step to winning any unlawful detainer case. The tenant file should have the signed rental application, tenancy agreement and move-in and move-out condition reports, rent payment history, completed repair requests and responses, receipts for repairs, e-mails and notes from tenant conversations, and photos/videos of the premises. The file should also include a copy of any house rules given to the tenant.

Make Sure Your Notice Is Valid

Defective eviction notices are routinely the cause of a lost eviction case.  If the notice is not timed exactly, not filled out perfectly, or not served on each of the tenants following the letter of the law, the case likely will be dismissed, and the landlord will have to start over.

Preparation for Trial

It’s not always enough to simply tell the judge your side of the story.  Instead, you must anticipate any and all arguments that could possibly be made by the tenant and be prepared to refute those arguments at trial.

The pleadings (Complaint, Answer and Affirmative Defenses) frame the issues to be decided in the lawsuit.  The Affirmative Defenses must be reviewed to determine whether they have merit and, if so, you must be prepared to counter your opponent’s assertions with admissible evidence.  Prior to the trial date make sure your tenant file has all the evidence you need to win the case.  Testimony alone is usually insufficient to convince a tribunal or court to side with the landlord. Documentation is key. For evictions involving complaints from other tenants, plan to have those tenants come to court as witnesses.

It is important that a landlord or tenant gather all dispute-related documents prior to trial. This may include items such as:

  • The lease agreement;
  • Physical or electronic correspondences;
  • Texts;
  • Photos and videos;
  • Recordings;
  • Witness statements; and
  • Any other items that help to support the claim.

Regarding courtroom demeanor, always be respectful to the Judge.  Refrain from making personal attacks against the other party and remember to genuinely listen when the other person is airing their grievances. Be professional, yet assertive.


A strong landlord-tenant dispute case requires a viable claim, solid evidence, and basic knowledge of the legal issues and relevant laws involved in the dispute.  Landlord-tenant dispute cases are stronger when a party has significant evidence to prove their point, can satisfy the standards required by the applicable laws, and can construct a more persuasive argument than the opposing party.

Please contact Lynx Legal with any questions regarding the above or if you need to start an eviction case.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or  Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer any questions you may have or take your order if you are ready to start a case.

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