You may not serve the court papers yourself. Court papers must be served by someone who is over 18, who is not part of the case, and who does not live with you. Some landlords hire process servers to serve papers. The service must be in one of the following ways:
- Personal service — Personal delivery means the court papers are handed to the tenant. You must attempt personal delivery first.
- Substitute service — means the papers are handed to a person of appropriate age who lives or works in the home, and a copy is mailed to the tenant by certified and regular mail.
- Conspicuous service — can be done only after personal service is attempted. With conspicuous service the papers are either taped to or slid under the door and mailed to the tenant by certified and regular mail.
- Are there other parties I must notify? — If you receive rent through a subsidy program you might have to notify the appropriate agency—check the lease or agreement.
- What do I do after I serve the tenant? — Once the tenant receives the court papers, he or she has 5 days to answer in Housing Court.
- If the tenant answers — When the tenant answers, he or she will tell the clerk any of his or her defenses. The clerk will mark the answer form and put the form in the court file. The court will mail you a postcard with the date, time and room number of your hearing.
- If the tenant doesn’t answer — and the rent is still not paid, you can apply in the clerk’s office for a default judgment. You will be required to provide an affidavit showing that the tenant is not in military service or dependant on someone who is.