Your Guide to the Eviction Process
Being evicted can be confusing and difficult to understand. The legal processes involved in eviction are complicated and can vary from state to state. You can find information on the eviction process in your state specifically by clicking [here]. If you want basic information on eviction that applies to most or all states, this guide can help you understand the basics of the eviction process and each step within that process.
Types of Eviction
The first time that you may hear the word “eviction” from your landlord is when being given a notice of eviction. Read the notice carefully, because the eviction process can be different depending on the reason for the eviction and whether the landlord will allow you to fix the situation.
If you are being evicted due to a lack of payment of rent, paying your late rent plus a late fee may be all you need to make the eviction stop. If you have violated one of the terms of your lease (for instance, by keeping pets that were not allowed on the property, smoking in a non-smoking home, et cetera), your landlord is likely to give you a certain number of days to remedy the violation before continuing with the eviction process.
If your landlord does not give you any way to remedy the situation, or if you know that you cannot remedy the situation in the time period given, the eviction process will move on to its next step. The notice your landlord gives you will detail how long your tenancy can continue until papers are filed in court against you.
Court Filings and Hearings
Papers pertaining to your eviction will be filed with the court in your county if the eviction process continues. A court which handles landlord/tenant disputes will set a date for a hearing that can move the eviction process forward. The amount of time it will take between the filing and hearing depends on where you live. In some locations, you may have only a few days or weeks before a court hearing, but in areas with a large backlog of cases, it may be months until the landlord can have the hearing scheduled to continue the eviction process.
You will be sent a notice by the court when the hearing date is set, and if you wish to contest the eviction, you must be present for the hearing. Your landlord will be present for the eviction hearing, and the judge will rule as to how to move the eviction process forward from there.
If you have a defense to present, the judge can decide in your favor or force your landlord to take additional action before evicting you. A landlord/tenant lawyer can help assist you if you wish to contest your eviction at this stage, which is the last stage in the eviction process where you can still sometimes avoid being removed from your home.
Writs of Possession and Lock-Out Dates
If the judge rules in your landlord's favor, the next step in the eviction process is for you to receive a Writ of Possession. This document tells you when you must move out of your home or be forcibly removed. You will be given this paper by your local sheriff. If you do not leave your home by the time specified in the writ, you will be subject to forcible removal by the sheriff's department. In order to avoid forcible removal, it is best to remove your personal property and yourself from your rental unit before the date on the writ of possession.