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Your First Eviction Hearing

There are many steps in an eviction court case. After you get handed eviction court papers, you'll need to go to court on the date listed on the papers. This court date is called a First Appearance Hearing. 

It's important to know you won't be evicted at this hearing, unless you don't show up. If you don't go to court, your landlord could win automatically. 

Keep reading for more information on what happens at the first eviction hearing.

Here's what you need to know about going to your first eviction court date: 

  1. Get there early! It takes extra time to go through security and find your courtroom. 

  2. Once you're in your courtroom, if there is a court clerk in the room, let them know you’re there. Then take a seat and wait. 

  3. There may be a lot of other cases happening in the same courtroom. The judge or their staff will call your name when it’s your turn. Listen carefully for your name to be called. 

  4. When your name is called, say that you are present. The judge or their staff will then tell you what to do next.

For other questions about going to court, visit our Going to Court page.

If you don't go, your landlord will most likely win. This means there will be an eviction on your record, and you may have to pay your landlord’s court costs and fees for the eviction case. 

If you know you can't make it to your First Appearance hearing or you missed the hearing, write the court a letter to explain why you can't go or why you missed the hearing. Be sure to include your court case number on the letter. 

If you miss your hearing and you end up with an eviction on your record, you can contact the Eviction Defense Project for help. They may be able to help you undo the court's eviction decision by turning in forms called Motion to Set Aside Residential Eviction Judgment

Ask the court to dismiss (end) the case. The court will give you a paper saying the case is dismissed. Keep it for your records. If your landlord still wants to evict you, they will have to start a new case.

  • Ask the court to dismiss (end) your case if your landlord doesn't show up.
  • Pay rent if you're being evicted for not paying rent. 
  • Make an agreement with your landlord. 
  • Ask for a trial if you can't make an agreement with your landlord and you want to fight your landlord in court. 

Keep reading for more information on these options. 

You can stop the eviction case by paying your landlord the money that they say you owe them on the termination notice. Be sure to tell the judge at your First Appearance that you have the money to pay your landlord. 

If you can pay your rent in full at First Appearance:

  1. You do not have to make an agreement with your landlord. You can just pay your rent and ask the judge to dismiss (end) the case; 
  2. Your landlord must accept your money, even if it's late;
  3. Your landlord can’t make you pay their court costs or attorney fees to have the case dismissed. (But they can try to come after you later to pay these fees.)

Yes. You can talk to your landlord and try to solve the problem amongst yourselves instead of going to trial. For example, you could agree to move out by a later date, pay the rent you owe on a payment plan, or do something else to avoid going to trial.   

In many counties, the court will ask you and your landlord if you want to try mediation. Mediation is when another person (a mediator) helps you and your landlord try to make an agreement instead of going to trial. Not all counties provide free mediators.

Making an agreement is usually easier and less stressful than a court trial. But if you make an agreement, you give up your chance to fight your eviction and have a trial in front of a judge. 

If you do make an agreement, put your agreement in writing. Both you and the landlord must sign it. Make sure to read it carefully so you understand what you're agreeing to. The court will make an order based on your agreement. An order is an official legal document that is part of your court file.

  • If you follow the agreement: The eviction case will go away after 12 months (or sooner, if your landlord agrees to end the case in less time or you do what you promised to do sooner).   

  • If you don't follow the agreement: Your landlord can go back to court and tell the court you didn't follow the agreement. The court will sign a legal document, called a "Notice of Restitution," that tells you to move out in four days. If you don't move out by the date in the notice, the sheriff will force you to move out. 

If you want to keep fighting your eviction in court, make sure you have a legal defense, or that you will be able to pay the full amount you owe by the trial date. A legal defense is a legal reason to stop an eviction case. For more information on defenses, go here

Court trials are complicated. If you go to court and lose your case, it can be very expensive for you. The judge may order you to pay your landlord’s fees and costs. 

It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you want to fight your landlord in court. There are many options for getting free or low-cost legal help in Oregon. Many lawyers are willing to help renters that have a strong case. They probably won’t charge you anything right away. That’s because your landlord has to pay your lawyer’s fee if you win. You can use our Referral Database to search for free and low-cost housing lawyers in your area. 

You must turn in a court form, called an Answer to a Residential Eviction. An answer is a court form that lets you list the legal reasons (defenses) why you should not be evicted. 

Fill this form out and give it to the clerk at the court. The clerk will give you a copy to mail to your landlord. 

You must turn in this form on the same day as your First Appearance (or by the deadline the judge gives you at your First Appearance hearing). If you miss this deadline, turn in the form as soon as possible after your First Appearance. If you don't turn in an answer, your landlord could win automatically.

You can find the answer form on the website for Oregon's state courts or get a copy from the court. 

Yes. You must file your answer at court and give or mail a copy of your answer to your landlord on the date of your First Appearance. That date is listed on your eviction court paperwork. If the judge gives you a different deadline, you can follow the judge’s instructions.

If you miss this deadline, turn in the form as soon as possible after your First Appearance. If you don't turn in an answer, your landlord could win automatically.

Yes. The court clerk will ask you to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fee, ask for a fee waiver.

It depends. In most cases your eviction trial will be within one or two weeks of your First Appearance Hearing. In some counties, they schedule eviction trials within a couple days.

If you don't get a trial date when you file your answer, the court staff will contact you later to give you a date. Watch for a court notice in the mail or a phone call from the court.

You can read more about eviction trials here.

If you are being evicted for not paying rent: You can pay your landlord what you owe at any time before trial. Bring proof of payment to the court. If you show the court that you paid the money you owed, the court should dismiss (end) your case and cancel your trial. If your trial isn't cancelled, go to court on your trial date and bring proof that you paid the money you owed.

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