Call a lawyer for advice on how to fill out the form Answer. Even if a lawyer cannot represent you in court, s/he may be able to help you fill out the form Answer. A sample of the form Answer is shown below.
Repair Problems – In the resource ‘Getting the Landlord to Make Repairs’ you will find a list of repairs that a landlord should make. If your landlord did not make repairs, you should check the first blank on the form Answer and describe the needs for repair. Also, indicate how and when you told the landlord about the needs for repair.
You should be prepared to prove damages that equal or are larger than the rent that you owe. You must testify about how much less your place was worth each month because your landlord refused to make repairs. For example, if you rented a four room apartment for $400 per month but a leak in the roof prevented your use of one room for 3 months, you might testify that the apartment was worth 25% less or $100 less per month because you could not use 1 of 4 rooms. In addition, you should describe any damages caused to furniture or clothing and the costs for repairing or replacing the property. Remember the one-year limitation to file this kind of case.
Retaliation Defense – If your landlord retaliated by serving a 30-day or 10-day no-cause termination notice after:
you complained about the need for repair,
testified against the landlord,
joined a tenants union, or
engaged in other protected activity,
you may check the second blank on the form Answer to allege retaliation. See the resource ‘Retaliation by a Landlord’ on this website for more information.
Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, or Sexual Defense Notice – If your landlord gave you a for-cause termination notice for a violation of the rental agreement that was caused by an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault where you or another member of your household was the victim, you may use this defense. You may also use this defense to a no-cause termination notice if you believe that your landlord gave you this notice because you or a household member is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault or because of an incident of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault. If your landlord can convince the judge that s/he had a lawful non-discriminatory reason for giving you a no-cause notice, you may not be able to win. See the resource ‘Discrimination Against Tenants’ fon this website or more information.
Notice Defense – If your landlord did not use the right type of notice, did not give it to you the right way, or did not give it at the right time (including 3 extra days for mailing), you should check the third blank on the form Answer indicating that the notice is wrong. See the questions ‘What does a landlord have to do to evict me?’ and ‘What kinds of termination notices can a landlord give me?’ in the resource ‘Eviction’ for more information on notices.
Other Defenses – There is also a fourth line listed on the form answer called “Other Defenses.” This is the line to check and the space to fill in when the landlord’s complaint is not true.
For example, you might write the following: “I paid my June rent in full on June 1, and I have a receipt,” “I offered to pay June rent on June 9, during the 72-hour eviction notice period and the landlord refused to accept it,” or “The dog in question was moved out during the 10-day eviction notice period and has not returned.”
Other types of “Other Defenses” are:
Remedy/Cure If your landlord gave you a for-cause notice and you fixed the problem within the time allowed in the notice, you should write in the word “Remedy” or “Cure” under “Other Defenses.” See the question ‘What kinds of termination notices can a landlord give me?’ about For-Cause Notices, in the ‘Eviction’ resource.
Waiver – If your landlord accepted part of the rent after rent was past due, you should write in the word “waiver” under “Other Defenses” and describe the date and amount paid. For example, you could write, “Waiver—I paid $50 to the landlord for rent on June 2.” See the questions ‘Can I be evicted for nonpayment if I paid part of the rent this month?’ and ‘Can I be evicted if I have paid my rent?’ in the resource ‘Eviction’ for more information on waivers.
Discrimination – If the notice or eviction is discriminatory, you should write the word “discrimination” under “Other Defenses” and describe what happened. See the resource ‘Discrimination Against Tenants’ for more information on discrimination.
Utility shut off or lock out – If the landlord changed the locks, removed your things, shut off the water, heat, or electricity or took other out of court action to force you to move, describe the action under “Other Defenses” and ask for twice the actual damages or two months’ rent, whichever is more. Talk to a lawyer. See the question ‘What can I do if I am locked out or my utilities are shut off by my landlord?’ in the resource ‘Eviction’ for more information.
Unlawful entry – If the landlord or someone working for the landlord came into your home without your permission or without a 24-hour notice in advance (except for an emergency or to complete repairs initiated within seven days after you asked for repairs in writing) you may claim at least one month’s rent as a penalty for each unlawful entry. Write down the date and name of the person who entered under “Other Defenses.” For example, you may write “Unlawful entry by the resident manager, John Doe, on May 14.” See the question ‘Does my landlord have a right to enter the rented space?’ in the resource ‘Entering Your Rented Space’ for more information.