The Appeal Process
To appeal an eviction from a J.P. court, you will have to post an appeal bond, or post a cash bond with the court. This has to be done within 5 days of the judgment being signed (count weekends and holidays unless the fifth day falls on a day when the court is closed, then the last day is extended to the next day the court is open). The bond is set by the court and is usually two times the amount of the rent. A bond is a promise to pay the landlord in case you lose the appeal and must be signed by two other persons, besides yourself, who have sufficient assets to cover the amount of the bond. The J.P. court will provide you with a bond form if you request one. The court must approve your bond before you are allowed to appeal. If the court does not accept your bond after you post it, the court should give you sufficient time to court any defect before dismissing your appeal.
If you cannot find anyone to sign an appeal bond with you, then you must post the cash instead. This is called a cash bond and your money will be kept by the court and released by the court. Be careful giving money to the court, because it is entirely possible the landlord will be awarded the money later on if you lose the appeal.
Regardless of whether you post an appeal bond or a cash bond, the county court filing fee must also be paid within twenty days of being notified that it is due. If you do not pay the fee then your appeal will be dismissed. The court will tell you how much these are.
If you are unable to find two people to sign the bond, and cannot afford to post a cash bond or pay court costs you are entitled to file an affidavit of inability and appeal as a pauper.
If you want to win your appeal, you should continue to pay any rent required under the lease agreement or at least attempt to pay it. If the landlord accepts your money be sure to get a receipt. (A money order receipt is not a receipt of anything. It proves only that you purchased a money order. Get the landlord to sign saying received your money order.)
If you appealed just to challenge the amount of back rent awarded in the judgment, make this point clear to the landlord see if you can work something out. Get any agreement you make in writing. Often, landlords do not want to go to court, and, if you have moved out of the premises, are more willing to negotiate.
About a Pauper’s Appeal as a Tenant
If you are unable to post an appeal or cash bond, and pay court costs, you still may appeal your eviction case to county court by filing an affidavit of inability and appeal the case as a pauper. The deadline for filing the affidavit is the same as appealing using an appeal or cash bond (five days from the judgment counting weekends).
If the court accepts your affidavit and the landlord does not challenge it, then you can appeal the case without posting a bond or paying costs. However, a landlord can file a protest with the J.P. court and require you to attend a hearing to provide testimony of your financial situtation. If the court agrees with your landlord, the J.P. court may require you to post a bond and pay costs to appeal the eviction. (This decision can independently be appealed to the county court.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are appealing an eviction case that was filed because of nonpayment of rent and you are appealing as a pauper by filing an affidavit of inability, then within five days of filing your affidavit you must deposit one rental payment with the J.P. court, and in the future continue to pay regular rental payments into the county court registry within five days of the due date under the lease. If you do not comply, you could be removed from the premises while your appeal is pending.
(If you are faced with an eviction you should seriously consider getting advice and assistance from an attorney. If you are very low income you may qualify for free or low cost legal aid. We have provided you info on finding your local Legal Aid office.)
Filing a written answer with the County Court
No matter how you appeal, if you did not file a written answer with the justice court, you should file a written answer with the county court within eight days after filing an appeal, or the landlord may win by default. We have provided a form answer for filing with county court for your use.
Preparing for the appeal
An appeal from J.P. court is a little different than you may think. When you appealed to county court, the J.P. court judgment became void completely — as though it never happened. So, in county court the landlord must start all over again and attempt to prove its case again. You do not have to prove anything or point out some error that occurred in J.P. court. You just need to be able to show how the landlord is wrong and that the eviction should be denied. You also entitled to a jury trial in county court if you make a request in writing and pay the fee required. Follow some of the same advice we gave you in preparing for the J.P. court hearing. (You just need to do it better this time.)
If the county court rules for the landlord again, the court must give you at least ten days to vacate the premises before a writ of possession can be executed. (A writ of possession is an order to the constable or sheriff to remove you and your belongings from the property.) Because it costs the landlord money to have the writ executed, try to negotiate a move out date if you can. Put any agreement in writing to protect yourself. It is possible for you to appeal from the county court to the court of appeals, but that is outside the scope of these materials and you will have to consult with an attorney about the requirements to appeal further. For more information on the writ of possession go back to the discussion of these in J.P. court process.