Eviction and Unlawful Detainer

Eviction lawsuit – Process for filing eviction or unlawful detainer lawsuit

Eviction process is regulated by state law. The landlord cannot immediately evict a tenant. Even after the landlord gets an order for eviction from the court, the landlord cannot throw out the tenant. Only the Sheriff has the authority to enforce the eviction order. If the tenant does not move out when the Sheriff asks him or her to, the Sheriff can use reasonable force to physically move the tenant out and seize all of the tenant’s belongings.

Reasons for Eviction

Generally, the landlord must prove a reason for eviction. The most common reasons why landlords seek an eviction are non-payment of or consistent delay in payment of rent, violating of lease terms and failure to correct the violation despite the notice, engaging in illegal or criminal activities on the property and expiry of the lease.

Notice Requirements

All states require that the landlord issue notices to the tenant before filing for eviction. The notice must provide the reason for eviction. The notice must give a certain period of time for the tenant to move out. If the tenant does not move out within the said period of time or correct the defect or reason why the landlord wanted the tenant to vacate, the landlord must file a lawsuit. In many jurisdictions, this lawsuit is referred to as unlawful detainer lawsuit.

Lawsuit (Unlawful Detainer)

After the landlord files the unlawful detainer lawsuit, you will receive a notice from the court informing you about the lawsuit. Generally you will have very little time to respond to the lawsuit. The time period could be as little as 3 or 5 days depending on your state law. If you do not appear and respond to the lawsuit, court will pass a default judgment against you. If you appear and successfully fight the lawsuit, the landlord cannot evict you. If the landlord prevails, the Sheriff will ask you to vacate the property. You will receive an advance notice from the Sheriff informing you of the date and time when the Sheriff will be coming to take possession of the property. If you do not hand over possession, the Sheriff will physically remove you from the property.


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