You can submit your answer in writing to the court. Another option is to consult with an attorney.You must file the answer within 30 days of being served. Answers for landlord-tenant matters must be filed within seven days. The date after service is counted as day one. If the 7th day falls on a day when the court is closed (a weekend or legal holiday), the answer is due on the next day the court is open. Answers must be filed to be legally sufficient. The date of mailing is not the date of filing. If you are close to the deadline for filing your answer, bring your answer to court and file it with the clerk yourself. Do not let an inadvertent delay in mail delivery cause you to waive your legal defenses. There is no cost to file an answer.
On the 31st day after service, the case goes into default. However, the defendant has an additional 15 days to open the default by filing a late answer and paying all court costs along with the answer. While you may file an answer beyond the 45th day following service, such answer may be a legal nullity and void. You protect your rights by timely filing an answer with the clerk of court.
If you are also contending that the plaintiff actually owes you money, you should file a counterclaim against the plaintiff at the time you file your answer against the claim the plaintiff has filed against you.