Title 44, Chapter 7, Section 53
(a) If the tenant fails to answer as provided in subsection (b) of Code Section 44-7-51, the court shall issue a writ of possession instanter notwithstanding Code Section 9-11-55 or Code Section 9-11-62; and the plaintiff shall be entitled to a verdict and judgment by default for all rents due, in open court or in chambers, as if every item and paragraph of the affidavit provided for in Code Section 44-7-50 were supported by proper evidence, without the intervention of a jury.
(b) If the tenant answers, a trial of the issues shall be had in accordance with the procedure prescribed for civil actions in courts of record except that if the action is tried in the magistrate court the trial shall be had in accordance with the procedures prescribed for that court. Every effort should be made by the trial court to expedite a trial of the issues. The defendant shall be allowed to remain in possession of the premises pending the final outcome of the litigation; provided, however, that, at the time of his answer, the tenant must pay rent into the registry of the court pursuant to Code Section 44-7-54.