For those who own and manage investment property, the eviction process is both a necessity and a source of frustration. Formally called forcible detainer, the eviction procedure required to reclaim possession of a property from a tenant is time consuming and sometimes stressful.
Evictions can be initiated for any breach of a lease by a tenant. However, most evictions occur from tenant failure to pay rent. If a tenant fails to pay rent by the due date stated in a lease, that tenant is in default and under Kentucky law, the landlord may sue to reclaim possession from the tenant. Essentially, the landlord is suing the tenant for unlawfully remaining in possession (forcible detainer).
The steps to successfully evict must be taken correctly or the landlord will be forced to start the process over extending an already lengthy endeavor. The first step in the forcible detainer action is posting notice to vacate. The day after rent is due a landlord may post notice to vacate on the tenant’s door. The notice to vacate must state the following: 1) name of the tenant and landlord; 2) address of the leased premises; 3) the amount of past due rent; 4) rent due date and it must provide the tenant with the opportunity to cure by advising the tenant that he or she has seven days to vacate or pay the past due rent. If the tenant fails to pay rent or vacate, then the landlord must file a petition for forcible detainer in district court in the county in which the rental property is located. The court clerk will provide the landlord with a trial date for the lawsuit and provide notice to the tenant of the date as well.
In order to preserve its right to repossession the landlord cannot accept any rents not accrued and must appear at the trail date and prove to the court that a breach of the lease occurred and is entitled to possession. The tenant may appear at the trail date and assert defenses but in the vast majority of cases the tenant does not bother to show up and the landlord wins by default.
If the landlord obtains judgment at trial, the court will order the tenant to vacate within seven days. If the tenant fails to vacate within seven days, the landlord will need to obtain a Warrant for Possession from the court. To do this, the landlord will need to go to the district court clerk office and fill out a Eviction Notice: Warrant for Possession form, pay a fee and the clerk will submit it to the court. Usually it takes a couple of days for the judge to sign it. From there the warrant is sent to the county sheriff. The landlord must reach out the sheriff and schedule a date for a “set out.” A set out is simply the sheriff appearing at the property location and maintaining the peace while the landlord removes the tenant’s belongings. Once the tenant and his or her belongings have been removed it is advisable to change the locks. At that point, the landlord has completed the process.