eviction process

So you’re about to be evicted.

Whether it is due to non-payment, failure to follow the rules of the lease or complex or some other reason, facing the eviction process can be absolutely terrifying. But exactly how long does an eviction take, and what are the steps along the way?

Here is a typical timeline for eviction due to non-payment of rent, but eviction laws vary by state and municipality. If you are facing a possible eviction be sure to understand the laws that apply to the state, city and county where you live.

Your due date and the 3-day eviction notice

  • First of the month, or Day T+1: The day rent is due, or rather the day rent payment failed to occur. It is highly suggested that if you cannot pay your rent or you are withholding rent because of something the landlord failed to do, attempt to resolve the dispute or ask for an extension before your rent payment date.
  • T+2: The landlord may serve you a 3-day eviction notice or 3-day pay-or-vacate notice. This is an official notice that you have three days to pay.
  • T+3, T+4, and T+5: This is those aforementioned three days you have to pay your rent in full (not including weekends and holidays). During this time, if you pay the rent, your landlord must accept it and the eviction process comes to an end. A 3-day eviction notice may incur a late payment penalty, so be sure to check your lease.

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Receiving your eviction summons

  • T+6: If your rent is still unpaid, you are now in violation of the 3-day eviction notice. Your landlord may serve you a full-blown eviction notice, which is technically a lawsuit often referred to as an unlawful detainer, eviction summons and complaint, or notice to comply or vacate. This is now a legal matter.
  • T+6 through T+12: You have seven days to answer the summons. If you fail to do so, you will lose the lawsuit by default so you better be packed and ready to go. If you pay before the seven days are up, you most likely must pay the court directly, including fees and penalties.
  • T+12: Your response to the eviction lawsuit is due. If you have decided to fight the eviction in court – for example, if you are holding rent payment because the landlord failed to make a major repair and your landlord has not acted on your complaint – now is your last chance to file a countersuit. You will need to file a notice of appearance detailing your defense against the eviction and your reasons why you feel the landlord is in violation of the lease agreement.

Counter-filing a show-cause suit

  • T+13: As early as the next day after you file a notice, a date for your show-cause hearing will be held (although this typically happens around a week later). As the name states, a show-cause hearing is where you present your case for withholding rent payment to the court. The judgment will typically be handed down the same day. If you win the case, the landlord must complete the sentence, whether it be to present you with money being unfairly held, make repairs they failed to make or whatever the result of the judgment. If you win, you must be allowed to remain in the apartment, but it’s up to you to decide if you wish to keep living in a space owned by the person you just took to court. Also be aware, even if you win, the eviction filing will remain on your permanent record.

Time to pack your stuff

  • T+14: However, if the landlord wins, you will be served with a writ of restitution – or red tag – and a judgment will be levied on you in the amount of rent owed, fees owed, court costs and attorney fees. The local authorities – county sheriff, police, bailiff, etc. – will serve you your writ by posting it on your door, just like in the movies. It’s now time to pack your stuff. You have 72 hours to get out.
  • T+19 and T+20: Usually two or three days after your 72 hours are up, the authorities will have you and your belongings physically removed from the apartment, if you haven’t already done so yourself. The timing of this depends on the agreement between the authorities and your landlord and how nice the property-owner decides to be. Only the authorities can remove you and your property; the landlord cannot do this him or herself.This process is now over. Your eviction is complete. There is no further recourse.

Be proactive about resolving disputes

Of course, your eviction may be for other causes than non-payment of rent like excessive noise, undue damage, a criminal conviction or any other violation of your lease. But failure to make rent is by far the most common reason for eviction.

So, if you can’t pay the rent or you are protesting something the landlord failed to do, the best course of action is discuss the situation directly with the property-owner to draw up a payment plan or resolve any disputes.

Please note, the eviction process laws and regulations differ from state to state, municipality to municipality. This is a generalized timeline. Be sure to check your local laws and statutes for details.

This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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About The Author

Michael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga, and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.

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