You may represent yourself in court and present your defenses, but that is not a good idea. People who represent themselves usually lose. Non-lawyers are often confused by court procedures, and many judges have little patience with this. The landlord’s lawyer won’t give you any help, and might even take advantage of you.
Even if you are able to present your case clearly and properly, judges often think, “No lawyer? Either this person is a deadbeat who can’t even afford to hire a lawyer or his case is so bad that no lawyer would take it.” This is why even a lawyer needs a lawyer. A wise old lawyer once said, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” If you can possibly do so, get a lawyer.
If your lease or rental agreement has language requiring the losing party in any lawsuit to pay the winner’s attorney’s fees, you might be able to get your lawyer’s fees back from the landlord if you win.
The most contentious event in any landlord-tenant relationship is the eviction. The landlord believes that the tenant must leave, and the tenant believes that the landlord has no right to throw her out. The landlord wants to resolve the problem quickly and cheaply. The tenant wants to stay as long as possible before having to relocate.
Tenant law does provide for a fairly speedy remedy compared to other tenant lawsuits, but tenant law also protects the tenant from arbitrary actions that force her out of her home.