I was served with a Complaint - What happens next?
When you receive the court papers, they will contain both a Complaint and a Summons. In the Complaint, the landlord can ask for the judge to order you to move out. The Complaint may also ask the judge to order you to pay back rent, court fees, and attorney's fees. If the Complaint asks for damages, that just means your landlord wants you to pay him money. For example, any past rent due or rent for the days after the eviction notice expired. It does not mean that you are accused of causing physical damage to the unit.
The final part of the Complaint is called the Summons. It is almost always on the last page of the Complaint. The Summons is a command from a judge for you to appear at the first hearing, the "Answer Date." The Summons will either (1) tell you to come to a specific court on a specific time, date, and place, or (2) tell you to come to court on the fifth day after you receive the document. If it tells you to come on the fifth business day, start counting the day after you received it. DO NOT INCLUDE weekends or holidays. Example: if you received the Complaint on a Monday, you should start counting on Tuesday: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdsay, Friday, Monday. Show up the following Monday. If in doubt, call the Court where your hearing is scheduled and ASK.
Pay attention to what time you are required to be in Court and plan to arrive at least a half hour before your scheduled time. Sometimes it can take 30 minutes to get through the security checkpoint and if you are even a minute late - you could lose!