We are providing this list of tips in order to help property owners and managers prepare for their small claims trial appearance. We have been present at many of these cases, and have gathered these tips from over 30 years of experience. We want our clients and landlords across the state of California to win their disputes so that they can regain money they have lost.
Obviously, you want to win your case in order to begin collecting on damages done by your tenant. Being prepared for the trial is vital to the outcome of the case, and the tips suggested below can increase your chances of winning the case.
- Prepare your paperwork: Once you have been assigned a trial date, it is important to prepare your case. This includes gathering all documents, such as receipts for repairs, pictures of damaged property, copies of bad checks, and the rental contract, for example. Make sure you have this organized and can quickly locate it if requested in the trial. If you are unsure of which documents you should bring, give us a call and we can guide you through this step at (800) 868-8686.
- Bring 3 copies of everything: One copy for yourself, a copy for the defendant, and a copy for the judge. This helps you look well prepared, which can only help win your case.
- Gather facts (and proof) about your case: During trial, the judge will most likely ask you questions regarding your case so that he/she can have a full understanding of it. Knowing the facts ahead of time will allow you to provide prompt and firm answers, without needing to look or shuffle through your paperwork. Before the trial starts, go over the facts and your paperwork, so that you can quickly provide proof when asked to do so.
- Arrive early: Arriving early to the court on your trial date is important for two reasons. One, you will have time to go over your case, facts, and paperwork at hand. This is important because you only have a set amount of time to present your case. If you are late, your time to speak could be cut short. Even worse would be if you are not present at all, in which case you will default and lose your case. Second, courts usually run on a very tight schedule and will not wait for you. This is especially true in California due to the closure of courts across the state.
- Dress accordingly and appear neat, clean: Appearing as a professional, neat and well-dressed property owner gives the judge a good impression of you. Try to dress business like, and avoid clothing that has bright colors. Avoid wearing jeans, t-shirts, shorts, sandals and tennis shoes. Presenting yourself in a business-like manner in the court of law shows respect and can help you win the case.
- Be respectful and speak clearly: Once trial begins, be sure to show respect to everyone present in the trial, most importantly the judge. A good indication of respect during trial is to speak only when spoken to, and always allow others in the room to finish speaking. When it's your turn to speak, do so clearly and avoid speaking to your tenant directly during the hearing.
If you follow these simple guidelines and have your facts in order, you have a good chance of winning your small claims case. After you have succeeded in winning your case, a judgment will be mailed to you within 7 days. This entitles you to the money you are owed by the tenant, and is good for 10 years. You must wait 30 days after the judgment has been entered before beginning to proceed with collections. After the 30 day period, we at Fast Eviction Service can sub-in as your attorney of record and take over the collection for you.
If you would like more information on how we can collect money for you from the judgment you've received, please give us a call at (800) 868-8686. We often collect on many judgments for our clients after we process their eviction case, and have been doing so for over 30 years.
We wish you the best of luck during your small claims trial appearance. Good Luck!
- Fast Eviction Service, Small Claims Team.