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Eviction Actions

Eviction Actions are means to safeguard the legal interest of the landlord. Essentially, when a tenant fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the lease agreement, the landlord may seek legal action, known as eviction actions, to evict the tenant from the property. Legal proceedings a landlord must use to remove a tenant from an apartment or room. If the landlord wins the legal case, the court action to evict tenant will cease the rights of the tenant from further use of landlord's property.

Some local housing codes define "just cause" for an eviction and outline procedures that must be followed. Besides non-adherence to lease terms and conditions, eviction action could also be sought for an act of criminal nature involving the tenant, or any drug related activity by the tenant or any act that disturbs the peaceful habitat for other tenants.

In many states in USA, it is mandated that prior to tenant's eviction, they should be given a hearing in the district court. The basic 'elements of due process', for starting action for eviction case are the following in most states:

A. Enough notice to tenant on the eviction grounds reason.
B. Tenant can select a counsel to defend his or her case
C. Tenant can safeguard or defend his or her case

Most tenants who are facing eviction are being evicted as a consequence of nonpayment of rent. Others may face eviction for a variety of reasons, including violation of lease terms, creation of a health or safety hazard, misuse of property or even a personality dispute with a landlord.

While landlord-tenant law, and the laws governing the eviction process, can change substantially between jurisdictions, there are some generalities which apply for most jurisdictions. If you are facing eviction you should check with a lawyer or tenant's union in your area, so you can learn the specific laws which apply to your situation. If in case you are a landlord, the same applies to you too.

Find Eviction Action Information

There are subtle variations in legal rules related to rules of procedure for eviction actions. The high-level understanding of information related to eviction action can be obtained from the plethora of websites on internet. However, state specific information on eviction action can be retrieved from the district court website of the state. Sites of housing association in state, county housing court, state legislature documentation with reference to eviction statutes and any handbook on landlord / tenant terms and conditions can be useful for preliminary information on eviction action. However, if you happen to be on the receiving end - as a tenant - then for best guidance and way ahead, reach out to a lawyer who is experienced in the field of procedure for eviction actions.

Rules of procedure for eviction actions begin with 'Notice to quit' document and ends with the eviction case being resolved.

Landlord needs to give the tenant a 'Notice to Quit' before they can initiate an eviction. This document generally contains a notice to the tenant asking to vacate the apartment by a certain date. This document is duly signed by the landlord as well as their attorney and is handed over to the tenant by the state marshal. The document also states the eviction reason. Ideally, the tenant should reach out to his / her lawyer as soon as they receive this kind of a notice. There are several kinds of notices a landlord might use:

Nonpayment of rent: If the tenant doesn't pay the rent when it's due, the landlord can serve a notice that the rent is due and give the tenant a certain time (usually 3?5 days) in which to pay the rent (and any late fees specifically listed in a written rental agreement) or move out. If the tenant pays the full amount in the time stated, there can be no eviction on that notice.

Fix a violation: At times, it is the landlords who give tenants the notice to fix the violations of the rental agreement. The notice must state the amount of time the tenant has to correct this. For example, state law may give the tenant 5 or 10 days. If the tenant corrects the violation within the time, there can be no eviction on that notice.

Unconditional notice: In some states a landlord may give a notice for a tenant to move without any possibility of correcting something. In most places this can only be done if the tenant has seriously violated the rental agreement.

30-day or 60-day notices: In most states a landlord can give an eviction notice for a tenant to move without giving any reason. The time allowed under state law for such a notice is usually 30 or 60 days, but it may be as short as 20 days or as long as 90 days.

Notice to quit is not a court verdict and therefore the tenant may or may not vacate the premise by the due date on the notice. But if the tenant fails to vacate the premise prior to the due date on the notice then it gives the landlord the chance to begin the court eviction action process. Once the landlord begins the court action, the marshal hands over 'Summon and Complaint' document to the tenant. This is a court's document. The filing fee for evictions is $270.00 plus $10.00 per summons per tenant. The summons and complaint are usually two or three pages of paper, signed by the landlord's attorney. The first paper, the summons, is an official court form. It explains the action against you and what you must do to protect your rights. In the upper right hand corner of the summons is a box marked return date. You don't have to go to court on that date, but you or your attorney must file a paper called an appearance with the court within two days after the return date. This has to be taken seriously by the tenant and acted upon. The tenant has five (5) working days after being served in which to answer in writing to the Court why they think they should not have to move. Based on the 'return date' on the document, the 'appearance date' is fixed with the court.

If the tenant moves in the time allowed by law after being served or pays the rent, the landlord should notify the Clerk's office in writing so the case may be dismissed and closed. Judgment may be entered if the tenant moves owing rent and has not offered written defenses to the court, if personal service has been perfected. If the tenant answers in writing and deposits the rent demanded into the registry of court (if applicable) before the time allowed by law has elapsed, the case may be scheduled for an eviction hearing before a judge. At the hearing, the Judge will rule on whether the tenant has to move and if so, when they are to move.

Finally the trial date is fixed and the eviction case is discussed. A tenant could settle the case with the landlord on the court date or narrate his / her part of story to the court.

Else, if the tenant does not move or does not answer as stated above, within the time allowed by law, the landlord is entitled to a default. The landlord must formally request the Clerk enter a default by filing a Motion for Default. The default is then entered and a proposed final judgment is forwarded to the judge. If the judgment is signed, the landlord will be entitled to a Writ of Possession. The Clerk will forward this Writ of Possession and a service fee ($70.00) to the Sheriff. As soon as the Sheriff's Office receives and serves the Writ of Possession, the tenant will have 24 hours to vacate the premises.

It is generally a good idea for tenants who are facing eviction to employ an attorney or a lawyer to fight the case in the court. Some tenants will be eligible for legal assistance. Unrepresented tenants will find that the legal process is difficult, may not know how to examine witnesses or present evidence, may not understand what needs to be proved to win an eviction action, and may not know how to respond to a landlord's allegations or to dispute inflated charged for alleged damages. Thus, eviction action is safe measure to settle disputes between the tenants and landlords but the procedure are bit complicated.