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bond and paying court costs. A pauper's affidavit is a document signed by you that swears you do not have enough money to make bond or pay costs. The Justice of the Peace Court must make available to you an affidavit that you may use that meets the requirements for a pauper’s affidavit (including, for example, your name, the amount of your and your spouse’s various forms of income, the amount of available cash in your checking and savings accounts, the property you own, your debts and monthly expenses, and the number and age of dependents you have). The document must be notarized (sometimes the Justice of the Peace clerk will do this for you) and filed with the Justice of the Peace Court on or before the fifth day after the Justice of the Peace makes a decision in your case. A landlord can contest the affidavit and force you, at a hearing with the Justice of the Peace, to prove inability to pay. If you lose this "financial hearing," you have five days to either post a regular bond with the Justice of the Peace Court, as described above, or appeal this decision to the County Court. If you appeal the decision of the Justice of the Peace to deny your pauper’s affidavit, the County Court will set a hearing to consider your evidence that you cannot afford the bond. If the County Court does not approve your pauper’s affidavit, you can remain in possession of the unit only if you file an appeal bond within five days of the County Court judge’s decision.

If the appeal papers are properly filed, you can stay in the premises during the appeal. However, if you have filed a pauper's affidavit, as described above, and the landlord has claimed you violated the lease for nonpayment of rent, you must deposit a one-month rental payment with the court within five days of filing the pauper’s affidavit with the Justice of the Peace. After that, you must continue to deposit monthly rental payments with the court wherever the case is, but usually the County Court, within five days of the due date under the lease until the trial date. If a portion of your rent is payable by a government agency (for example, in the case of public housing, subsidized housing, or a Section 8 rental voucher), the Justice of the Peace should determine and note in the judgment the portion to be paid by the government and the portion to be paid by you. If the judge does not correctly determine these amounts, within five days of the court’s judgment, you must contest in writing the amount incorrectly determined by the court so that you only have to pay your correct portion of the rent to the court. If you fail to make these monthly rental payments to the court, the County Court, after a hearing, may issue a writ of possession to have you removed from the residence pending trial, and you may be responsible for the landlord’s reasonable attorneys’ fees in filing a motion regarding your failure to pay rent to the court.

No matter who appeals the case, a tenant must also file a written "answer" either in the Justice of the Peace Court or in the County Court within eight days of the case being assigned to a County Court. An answer is a written document that may state your defenses to the suit but can merely be a short statement listing the parties, the case number, and stating that you generally deny the statements made by the land- lord. It does not have to be fancy or have legal terms to be valid. If an answer is not filed, you can lose the eviction case without having a trial.


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