Small Claims Unit Contact Information
Small Claims Clerk: Stacey Wallander (920) 683-4024
TEMPORARY COVID-19 PROCEDURES (revised 10-14-20)
SMALL CLAIMS APPEARANCE REQUIREMENTS (non-eviction):
Please be advised that during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are implementing the following temporary procedures to minimize face-to-face contact and help safeguard everyone’s health.
Plaintiffs are excused from appearing in person. However, the Declaration of Non-Military Service (GF-175) and Certificate of Service or Affidavit of Service (for evictions or service of defendants residing outside of Manitowoc County) must be on file in order to obtain judgment.
- If you agree with the plaintiffs’ claim, do not come to court. Judgment will be entered. You may contact the plaintiff to discuss payment or return of property.
- If you are contesting the plaintiff’s claim, file a written Answer (SC-5200V) with the Clerk of Court by the return date.If no Answer is filed, judgment will be entered against you. Defendants contesting plaintiffs’ claims need to make sure to include their phone numbers on Answer. The court will call if subsequent commissioner hearings are to be by conference call (phone). If you receive Zoom Appearance instructions, it is your responsibility to connect to the meeting.
Small claims forms can be found online, under forms, circuit court, then small claims, and scrolling down to desired form.
Completed forms can be mailed or hand-delivered to: Manitowoc County Clerk of Court, Room 105, 1010 S. 8th Street, Manitowoc, WI 54220.
EVICTION HEARING APPEARANCE REQUIREMENTS (revised 10-14-20):
RETURN DATE (initial appearance):
Self-represented plaintiffs (landlords or agents) are required to appear for the return date by videoconference or telephone through the Zoom meeting. This allows the court to address questions regarding service of the notice terminating tenancy or the summons and complaint. Instructions to Appear Remotely will be mailed to you.
The Declaration of Non-Military Service (GF-175) and Certificate of Service or Affidavit of Service must be on file in order to obtain judgment. Neither the Sheriff’s office nor private process servers send Proofs of Service to the court. You must obtain the document and file it.
Per Local Court Rule 5.04(1), plaintiffs represented by counsel are allowed to appear by letter.
Self-represented defendants are required to appear for the return date by videoconference, if contesting. For defendants who fail to appear, a default eviction judgment will be entered by the Court allowing the Writ of Restitution to be issued. A Writ allows the Sheriff to remove you from the property.
Please note that the amount of money that is due is determined after the landlord obtains possession of the property at the damages hearing.
If you are contesting the eviction, there will be a hearing before a judge. You must file an Answer (SC-5200V) by the close of business the day before the hearing. If you want to file a Counterclaim (SC-5200V) against the landlord, you must do so by the return date, or if allowed, by the eviction hearing date before the judge.
Per Local Court Rule 5.04(2), defendants represented by counsel may file a written Answer (SC-5200V) prior to the return date, which will constitute an appearance.
Per Local Court Rule 5.04(3), out-of-state defendants do not need to appear in person, but must file a written Answer prior to the return date. (Appearance via the Zoom meeting is permitted.)
DAMAGES HEARING (w/Commissioner):
All parties will appear remotely. To contest the amount of money owed, you must appear (remotely) at the damages hearing. Defendants should keep their address up-to-date to insure they receive notices.
CDC ORDERS / DECLARATION FORM
CDC Order “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19” effective 9-4-20 through 12-31-20. Pandemic Relief Bill extends CDC Order through 1-31-21 (see Sec. 502/page 358). Declaration form template (effective through 3-31-21)
CDC Order extending “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19” effective 1-31-31 through 3-31-21.
CDC Eviction Moratorium (effective through June 30, 2021). Similar to CDC Order set to expire on 3-1-21, with a few exceptions that are listed on pages 10-11 of the order under the “Modifications” headings.
New version of Declaration form (effective 4-1-21 through 6-30-21)….note that tenants are not obligated to use CDC’s declaration form as long at the substitute declaration contains the required elements of “Covered Person” as described in Order, is signed, and includes statement regarding perjury (see page 13).
CDC Eviction Moratorium (effective through July 31, 2021). Similar to CDC Order set to expire on 6-30-21. Order clarifies that if the information in a previously signed Declaration remains truthful and accurate, covered persons are not required to submit a new Declaration under this Order (page 13).
CDC Eviction Moratorium (effective 8-3-21 through 10-3-21). A narrower eviction moratorium to temporarily halt evictions where there is a high or substantial spread of COVID-19. To determine if your county is experiencing “substantial” or “high” levels of community transmission, use this link to look up your county: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view
Basic requirements of original CDC orders still apply:
- This moratorium prohibits landlords from evicting “covered persons” from a residential property. (pgs. 2-3)
- To qualify for the protections of this Order, a covered person must provide a declaration to their landlord swearing they meet the requirements of a “covered person.” (pg. 14)
- As long as the information in a previously-signed declaration remains truthful and accurate, covered persons do not need to submit a new declaration under this Order. (pg. 14)
- This Order does not preclude a landlord challenging the truthfulness of a tenant’s declaration in court. (pg. 14)
- This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis. (pg. 13)
- Evictions based on reasons other than non-payment of rent are still permitted (pg. 13)
The United States Supreme Court issued a decision on 8-26-21 striking down the CDC’s eviction moratorium, finding the CDC exceeded its authority in imposing the ban and noting any subsequent moratorium would have to come from Congress.
Free legal resource promoted by Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission…..an on-line multi-lingual solution by A2J Tech helps tenants generate a Declaration that can prevent eviction from their home until 12-31-20. Under “Create Letter” there is a link for Tips on the Process. Also includes very helpful FAQs. In the Menu bar, on the flag, you can toggle between English and Spanish.
Small Claims Intake Information
Small Claims intake court is held every Tuesday afternoon (except for holidays), commencing at 1:30 p.m., followed by small claims eviction hearings at approximately 2:00 p.m., in the B-15 courtroom located in the lower level of the courthouse. A court commissioner presides over small claims intake. Small claims intake is open to the public.
Be on time for court to avoid dismissal of your case!
Small Claims Calendars
Intake Calendar (2021)
Chart to help determine filing periods for assigning initial appearance dates and process service deadlines.
Eviction Calendar (2021)
Chart to help determine filing periods for assigning initial appearance dates and process service deadlines.
Small Claims Commissioner Hearings (PDF copy)
If a defendant contests the claim at the return date, the matter will be set for a 30-minute commissioner hearing. The defendant will be required to file a written Answer within ten (10) business days of the return date. The original must be filed with the court, and a copy must be provided to the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney. If no Answer gets filed, the commissioner hearing will be canceled and judgment will be entered in favor of the plaintiff.
Special provision for eviction cases:
If a damages hearing is scheduled before the tenant has moved and the landlord has determined the amount claimed, the tenant is not required to file a Statement of Defenses before the commissioner hearing. All parties are required to attend the commissioner hearing on the money damages; the landlord must prove all damages and the tenant may dispute any items claimed. However, if the tenant has a counterclaim, an Answer and Counterclaim must be in writing and filed with the court at least ten (10) days before the commissioner hearing, and a copy must be mailed or provided to the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney.
Commissioner hearings are held in the B-15 courtroom and are informal. Both parties must be present. Documentary evidence may be presented, but no exhibits are marked. The parties may bring witnesses, although testimony will be strictly limited in order for each side to present its case in 15 minutes or less. Settlement is encouraged. If a compromise cannot be reached, the commissioner will decide based on the summarized facts presented. If necessary, the commissioner may issue a written decision.
Parties will receive a Demand for Trial at the end of the commissioner hearing. If a formal hearing with a circuit court judge is desired, the Demand for Trial must be filed within ten (10) business days of the commissioner hearing. If neither party demands a trial, judgment will be entered based upon the commissioner’s decision.
Request Clerk to Add E-Filing Fees as Costs to Judgment
Mail or fax a letter to the Civil or Small Claims Clerk requesting that the convenience fee and efiling fee be
included as part of the costs of filing for purposes of entering a judgment. If payment was made by
an electronic check, the convenience fee is a flat $2.50, and if payment is made by a debit or credit
card, the convenience fee is 2.75%. Manitowoc County Clerk of Court fax number is (920)683-2733.
Small Claims Mail Service (E-Filed Cases)
For all small claims actions initiated as e-files, the Clerk of Court will print off copies of the Summons and
Complaint for mail service on defendants who reside in Manitowoc County. If personal service is required
or preferred by the filer, the filer will be responsible to print off copies for purposes of process service.
Upgrading a Small Claims Case to Civil
There will no longer be a mechanism available for a plaintiff to upgrade a small claims case to a civil case
when plaintiff’s claim exceeds the statutory limit of $10,000. The small claims will have to be dismissed and
a new civil case will need to be filed, paying the applicable civil filing fee and e-filing fee.
Rental Termination Notices
The Manitowoc County Clerk of Court has the following rental termination notices available for purchase ($1.25 per page). Copies of the forms can be viewed in a “Rental Termination Notices” binder in the Clerk of Court lobby.
- Form 327 – 28-Day Notice Terminating Tenancy
- Form 328 – 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate
- Form 329 – 5-Day Notice to Vacate – Nuisance
- Form 330 – 5-Day Notice to Correct Breach or Vacate
- Form 767 – 14-Day Notice Terminating Tenancy for Breach of Rental Agreement
- Form 768 – 14-Day Notice Terminating Tenancy for Failure to Pay Rent
- Form 107 – Affidavit of Service for Notice Terminating Tenancy
- Form 108 – Itemization of Damages
- Form 109 – Publication NoticeNOTICE: These forms are made available as a convenience to you. We cannot provide any guidance or legal advice regarding which notice you should use….you need to make that determination based on your specific situation.
Address Change (Manitowoc County form) used to accomplish new mail service; additional mail fee required
Small Claims Summons & Complaint (SC-500)
Declaration of Non-Military Service (GF-175) to provide information on defendant’s military status
Answer and Counterclaim (SC-5200V) for defendant to provide formal reply to small claims complaint
or to make a counterclaim against plaintiff
Interpreter Request (GF-149) to identify a party’s need for an interpreter for a specific language
Itemization of Damages (Manitowoc County form) to itemize claim being made by plaintiff for unpaid rent and
damages in conjunction with an eviction action
Basic Guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions (SC-6000V)
Small Claims Procedural Information (Manitowoc County document; rev. 8-14-18)
Small Claims Service Information (SC-6050V) describes common methods of service and time limits
Motion for Contempt (SC-507A) to initiate a proceeding to enforce the Order for Financial Disclosure Statement
Order for Hearing on Contempt (SC-507B) order scheduling hearing for enforcement of Order for Financial Disclosure
Motion to Reopen Small Claims Judgment (SC-515A) for plaintiffs or defendants who failed to appear at a small
claims hearing even though they had notice of the hearing; form allows parties to request a hearing to reopen the default judgment
Order to Reopen Small Claims Judgment (SC-515B) order for hearing to reopen default judgment
Petition to Answer or to Reopen Small Claims Judgment (SC-511A) for defendants who claim that actual notice by mail of the summons and complaint did not occur; form allows defendant to petition to reopen judgment or get additional time to answer complaint
Order on Petition to Answer or to Reopen Small Claims Action with Mail Service (SC-511B) to Order small claims judgment to be reopened
Satisfaction of Judgment (GF-129) used to satisfy a lien or judgment
Stipulated Judgment of Dismissal (Manitowoc County instructions and form)
Demand for Trial (SC-517) when you disagree with a Commissioner’s decision, demand a trial before a circuit court judge within 10 business days of commissioner hearing (oral decision) or within 15 calendar days of the mailing of a written decision
Request for Writ of Restitution (Manitowoc County form)
Landlord/Tenant Guide DATCP resource which answers commonly asked questions about landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities in simple language.
The Wisconsin Way (Landlord/Tenant resource) publication available for viewing in Clerk of Court lobby
Writ of Restitution (SC-512) to direct Sheriff to remove defendant from property, and if applicable, supervise removal of defendant’s property from the property in question
More Small Claims Forms (wicourts.gov) forms are available in both PDF and Word format; also view Form Summaries for brief description of purpose and use of the form.
Manitowoc County Local Court Rules for county specific small claims procedure information
Small Claims Self-Help Site (CCAP)
provides assistance to pro se users using an interview process to complete the forms necessary to file small claims