Hearing on Rent into Court
Most important: This court hearing is not the end of the case. It is only about whether you should pay your Rent into Court while the case is going on. It also says how much and on what days you have to make the payment. On a later date there will be a trial to decide if you can keep possession and whether either party owes money damages to the other. If you don’t show up and you haven’t answered, make sure you file a written Answer to the Complaint within 21 days from when you were served.
If you both show up, you could talk about settling the case. You can settle the case at any time, but many tenants and landlords think about settling when they are both in the court building. [See Settling the eviction case, below.]
At the hearing, the court can grant or deny the landlord’s request for a Rent into Court order.
Here are reasons the court could make a Rent into Court order at the hearing date:
- You don’t show up and the landlord does. With you not there, the landlord can get what the landlord wants.
- You come to the hearing, but haven’t filed a written opposition in advance of the hearing.
- You come to the hearing, but have no grounds to oppose. But, you ask the court for dates and amounts you can pay. [See You can ask the court for a payment plan, below.]
Here are the reasons the court could NOT make a Rent into Court order at the hearing date:
- The landlord doesn’t show up.
- You filed a written opposition, and you show up and tesify that:
- that the rent is paid up, or
- the rent has been lawfully withheld, or
- you are not obligated to pay for some other reason (for example, you have moved out) or
- you did not get ten days’ notice of the Rent into Court hearing
How much Rent into Court can a court order the tenant to pay?
The court can order the tenant to pay:
- your current rent every month, and
- the rent that wasn’t paid from the date the eviction case was filed in court, or if the Summons was served before the case was filed, from the date the Summons was served. VRCP 3, 12 V.S.A. § 4853a(d).
Example: December’s rent was not paid. The termination date was January 4th. The landlord files in court January 14th. The Summons, Complaint and Notice of Rent into Court hearing was served January 17th. The Rent into Court hearing happens on January 28th. The court will order that you pay your current rent for February on February 1st, and order that you pay the rent due between January 14th and February 1st also on February 1st.
You can ask the court for a payment plan
If you have a good reason (the timing of benefit or paychecks is a good reason) you can ask that the court order include dates that make it possible for you to pay on time. Keep in mind that the court will not accept personal checks, only money order, bank checks or cash. 12 V.S.A. § 4853a(e) When asking for payment dates, you have to think about how you will get the money to the court by those dates.
If you do not pay Rent into Court as ordered
The landlord can get a Writ of Possession if you do not pay Rent into Court as ordered. If you get a Motion for a Writ, or are served with a Writ of Possession, and you want to pay up and stay in the unit, you must immediately (the same day) file a written Opposition to the Motion for a Writ, or a Motion to Quash the Writ, and pay the payments due under the order into court.
The court will review your opposition. The court may decide to let you stay, but it may decide that even if you have the money now, the fact that you didn’t pay on time means that the landlord can get a Writ of Possession.