Eviction Process

Eviction Process by State

Note. To learn about how to stop or delay an eviction, Click here

While the specific actions landlords and tenants must take may vary from state to state, in general, evictions tend to follow the outline below, regardless of where in the United States the rental unit is located.

Step 1: Lease Expires or Is Violated

Landlords can evict tenants for a variety of different reasons depending on the state.

Typically, landlords must have a valid reason to evict a tenant unless the lease/rental agreement has expired, such as nonpayment of rent, illegal activity, and lease violations.

Several states also include things like health/safety violations or sale of the rental unit as acceptable reasons to evict a tenant, as well.

In most states (though not all), tenants can be evicted simply because their lease has expired and the landlord doesn’t want to renew, even if the tenant has not violated the lease in any way.

Some states, like New Jersey, have very specific reasons tenants can be evicted, while other states are vague about when it’s acceptable to evict tenants. It’s essential for both landlords and tenants to understand the allowable reasons for eviction in their state.

Nonpayment of Rent

Landlords are allowed to evict a tenant in most states for failing to pay their rent on time. “On time” means different things in different states, with some states allowing grace periods for late rent while others don’t.

In addition, some states allow tenants the opportunity to pay past-due rent and avoid eviction, while other states don’t.

Lease Violations

Lease violations could include things like damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, and having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy.

Illegal Activity

Illegal activity could include anything from possessing and/or selling/manufacturing controlled substances, to gang activity, assault, felonies, murder, and domestic abuse. Each state has its own regulations about what constitutes “illegal activity” for eviction purposes.

Lease / Rental Term Expiration

Expiration of a lease/rental agreement or a rental term can be a valid reason for eviction, as well. The notice period is typically tied to the type of tenancy, with week-to-week tenants usually receiving 7 days’ written notice and month-to-month tenants typically receiving 30 days’ written notice.

NOTES

Self-help Evictions. Almost every state has banned “self-help” evictions, where the landlord does any of the following without having a court order:

  • Changes the locks without alerting the tenant
  • Dumps a tenant’s belongings outside the rental unit
  • Shuts off a tenant’s utilities
  • Or otherwise prevents the tenant from physically entering or living in the rental unit

Retaliatory Evictions. In many states, though not all, landlords are not allowed to evict tenants for reporting health/housing code violations or being part of a tenant’s organization. These are called retaliatory evictions because it can appear that the landlord is trying to “get back” at the tenant for exercising their rights.

If the rental unit is in a state that does not require written notice prior to beginning an eviction action, landlords may skip directly to step 4 below.

Step 2: Notice to Vacate / Correct Lease Violation

Most states require landlords to give their tenants written notice before they can move forward with an eviction. This notice will typically give tenants a certain amount of time to:

  • Pay past due rent
  • Correct a lease violation
  • OR move out

The amount of time the notice gives tenants to correct an issue or move out varies from state to state and can depend on the reason for eviction and/or how long a tenant has lived in the rental unit.

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StateReason for EvictionTime to Move Out / Correct Issue
AlabamaLease violation7 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
AlaskaLease violation5 or 10 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activity24 hours to 5 days
ArizonaLease violation10 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityMust leave immediately
ArkansasLease violation14 days
Nonpayment of rent3 or 10 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
CaliforniaLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
ColoradoLease violation3 or 10 days
Nonpayment of rent10 days
Illegal activity3 days
ConnecticutLease violation15 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activityNo written notice or 15 days
DelawareLease violationNo written notice or 7 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
FloridaLease violation7 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activity7 days
GeorgiaLease violationNot specified
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
HawaiiLease violation10 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityNo written notice or 10 days
IdahoLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
IllinoisLease violation10 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activity
IndianaLease violation30 days if no written lease
Nonpayment of rent10 days
Illegal activityNo written notice or 45 days
IowaLease violation7 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activity
KansasLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activity30 days
KentuckyLease violation14 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activityVaries by location
LouisianaLease violation5 days
Nonpayment of rent5 or 20 days
Illegal activity5 days
MaineLease violation30 days if no written lease
Nonpayment of rent7 days if no written lease
Illegal activity
MarylandLease violation14 or 30 days
Nonpayment of rentNo written notice required
Illegal activity30 days if no written lease
MassachusettsLease violationNot specified
Nonpayment of rent14 days
Illegal activityNot specified
MichiganLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activity24 hours
MinnesotaLease violationNo written notice required
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activityNot specified
MississippiLease violation14 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activityNo written notice or 14 days
MissouriLease violation10 days
Nonpayment of rentNot specified
Illegal activity5 or 10 days
MontanaLease violation3, 5 or 14 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activity
NebraskaLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activity5 days
NevadaLease violationNo written notice or 5 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activity3 days
New HampshireLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent7 days
Illegal activity
New JerseyLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rentNo written notice required
Illegal activity3 days
New MexicoLease violation3 or 7 days
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activity
New YorkLease violation10 days
Nonpayment of rent14 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
North CarolinaLease violationNo written notice required
Nonpayment of rent10 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
North DakotaLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
OhioLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
OklahomaLease violation15 days
Nonpayment of rent5 or 10 days
Illegal activity10 days
OregonLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent72 or 144 hours
Illegal activity24 hours
PennsylvaniaLease violation15 or 30 days
Nonpayment of rent10 days
Illegal activity
Rhode IslandLease violation20 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
South CarolinaLease violation14 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityMust leave immediately
South DakotaLease violationNot specified
Nonpayment of rent3 days
Illegal activityNot specified
TennesseeLease violation7 or 14 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity3 days
TexasLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
UtahLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
VermontLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent14 days
Illegal activity
VirginiaLease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rent5 days
Illegal activityNo written notice required
WashingtonLease violationNo written notice or 3 or 10 days
Nonpayment of rent14 days
Illegal activityNo written notice or 3 days
West VirginiaLease violationNo written notice required
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
WisconsinLease violation5, 14 or 30 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity5 days
WyomingLease violation3 days
Nonpayment of rent
Illegal activity
Washington, D.C.Lease violation30 days
Nonpayment of rentNo written notice required
Illegal activity30 days

Once the deadline in the notice has expired, landlords may continue with the eviction process.

For states that don’t require written notice, as soon as the lease has expired or has been violated in some way, landlords may file an eviction action with the court. This means that the summons requiring tenants to appear in court may be the first time tenants are aware they’re being evicted.

Step 3: Tenant Fails to Move Out / Correct the Violation

This step only applies in states that require prior written notice.

For those states, if the tenant moves out or corrects the issue that caused the lease violation prior to the deadline given in the notice, then the tenant will not be required to move out and the eviction process will be stopped.

However, if the tenant is not able to correct the issue, or isn’t given the option to correct the issue and fails to move out by the deadline in the notice, then the landlord can proceed with the next step in the eviction process, which is filing an eviction action with the court.

How long tenants have to move out/correct a lease violation depends on whether or not their state requires prior written notice and if so, how much notice is required for the specific reason for eviction. Typical notice periods are between 3 and 30 days.

Step 4: Landlord Files Eviction Action With Court

Different states have different requirements for how landlords must file eviction paperwork with the court, when they must file the eviction paperwork, and how tenants must be notified that the landlord has filed an eviction case.

Typically, once the eviction case has been filed with the court, an eviction hearing will be scheduled, although some states will not set a hearing until the tenant has filed a written response, or “answer” with the court.

In most states, the tenant must be served with a summons that tells them when to appear for the hearing, or that requires them to file a written answer with the court by a certain deadline if they want to attend the eviction hearing.

This part of the process can take anywhere from 3-30 days or longer, depending on the state, the reason for the eviction, and whether or not tenants are required to file a written response.

NOTES

Answer. A written answer is the tenant’s opportunity to explain to the court why they should not be evicted. In states where tenants are required to file a written response, failure to file the answer within the deadline could mean the tenant isn’t allowed to attend the eviction hearing.

Step 5: Court Decides if Tenant Must Move Out

The day of the eviction hearing has finally arrived—meaning a final decision about the eviction will be made, right? Not necessarily! Some states only hold one eviction hearing, while others schedule two hearings (or more).

Types of Hearings

In states that schedule two hearings, often the initial hearing is designed to give the landlord and tenant the chance to work out an agreement to allow the tenant to remain in the rental unit, such as creating a rent re-payment schedule if the eviction is due to nonpayment of rent.

If an agreement can’t be reached between the landlord and tenant, then an eviction hearing will be held at another time, which is when a judicial officer will determine whether the tenant will be required to move out.

In other states that set two hearings, the initial hearing is for a judicial officer to determine if additional evidence is required to make a final ruling, or if a decision can be made immediately on the eviction.

If more evidence is necessary, or if witnesses will need to be called, a second hearing will be held at a later date.

Some states hold an eviction hearing first and then a separate hearing later to determine how much, if anything, is owed to the winning party.

Other states only have one hearing during which all issues, including any dollar amounts owed, will be addressed.

Ruling on the Eviction

At the eviction hearing, whether it’s the first hearing, the second hearing, or a jury trial, one of two things can happen:

  • The court rules in favor of the tenant
  • The court rules in favor of the landlord

If the judicial officer rules in favor of the tenant, then the eviction is stopped, and the tenant gets to remain in the rental unit. In some states, tenants are entitled to money damages if they win the eviction lawsuit.

If the judicial officer rules in favor of the landlord, either through a default judgment or at the eviction hearing, then the tenant must move out by a certain deadline.

This deadline may be set by the judicial officer at the hearing, or it could be determined by state law. Some states allow tenants different amounts of time to move out depending on the reason for the eviction.

NOTES

Default Judgment. In eviction cases, a default judgment is usually a ruling in favor of one party because the other party failed to do something they’ve been ordered to do, like failing to file a written answer by a certain deadline, failure to appear in court on the hearing date, or failure to serve important paperwork on the other person in the case.

Order for Possession

Once the court rules in the landlord’s favor, an order to remove the tenant will be issued. This may be called an order (or writ) for eviction, possession, restitution, or removal, depending on the state.

The writ or order may be issued at the hearing, or in some states, it may not be issued until a few days after the hearing in order to give tenants time to file an appeal.

A few states allow the landlord to remove the tenant once they’ve gotten the official eviction order, while in others, the order has to first go to a local law enforcement agency, and law enforcement officials must act on the order within a specific time period that varies by state.

The court hearing and ruling can take a few days to several months, depending on whether there are one or two trials, whether a jury trial is held, whether continuances have been granted, and whether or not the tenant appeals the ruling.

Step 6: Tenant is Removed (Evicted) From Rental Unit

Once an order or writ for possession/eviction/restitution/removal is issued, the clock starts ticking for the tenant to move out.

Some states require tenants to move out immediately after the order or writ is issued, while others give tenants a few days to several months, depending on whether tenants can prove moving out immediately would create a “hardship.” This is called a stay of execution.

In addition, in some states, the writ cannot be issued until after the deadline to file an appeal has passed, which gives tenants more time to move out of the rental unit even if they’re not filing an appeal.

For example, in Connecticut, the writ cannot be issued until 5 days after the ruling in favor of the landlord. Once the writ is issued, the tenant has an additional 24 hours to move out, giving the tenant a total of 6 days to move out after the order was entered in favor of the landlord.

If the tenant fails to move out within their state’s deadline, then in nearly every state, law enforcement officials will return to the rental unit and forcibly remove (or evict) the tenant from the rental unit.

See the chart below for the amount of time given to tenants to move out prior to being forcibly removed. (Note: The chart does not include any stays that may be granted by the court.)

StateTime Tenant Is Given to Move Out After Ruling in Favor of Landlord
Alabama7 days
AlaskaNot specified
Arizona12 hours to 5 days
Arkansas24 hours
California5 days
ColoradoWrit cannot be issued for 48 hours
Connecticut24 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 5 days
Delaware24 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 10 days
Florida24 hours
GeorgiaWrit cannot be issued for 7 days
HawaiiNot specified
IdahoMust move immediately or 5 days
Illinois7-14 days
Indiana48 or 72 hours
Iowa3 days
KansasUp to 14 days
Kentucky7 days
Louisiana24 hours
Maine48 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 7 days
MarylandUp to 60 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 4 days (nonpayment of rent)
Massachusetts48 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 10 days
MichiganWrit cannot be issued for 10 days
Minnesota24 hours
MississippiWrit cannot be issued for 5 days (all evictions except nonpayment of rent)
Missouri24 hours to 5 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 10 days
MontanaNot specified
Nebraska10 days
Nevada24-36 hours (nonpayment of rent); writ cannot be issued for 5 business days (nonpayment of rent)
New HampshireWrit cannot be issued for 5-7 days
New Jersey3-7 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 3 business days
New Mexico3-7 days
New York10 or 14 days
North CarolinaMust move immediately or up to 5 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 10 days
North DakotaNot specified
OhioUp to 10 days
Oklahoma48 hours
OregonWrit cannot be issued for 4 days
Pennsylvania10 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 5 days
Rhode IslandWrit cannot be issued for 6 days
South Carolina24 hours
South DakotaNot specified
TennesseeWrit cannot be issued for 10 days
Texas24 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 6 days
UtahMust move immediately or 3 days
Vermont5 or 14 days
Virginia72 hours; plus, writ cannot be issued for 10 days
Washington3-5 days
West VirginiaNot specified
WisconsinUp to 10 days
WyomingUp to 2 days
Washington, D.C.3 or 14 days; plus, writ cannot be issued for 2 days

The amount of time tenants are given to move out in some states depends on the reason for the eviction, and in many states, tenants being evicted due to illegal activity have less time to move out than they would for other eviction types.

In Summary

While the specific details of the eviction process vary from state to state, each state typically follows the same general pattern when it comes to evictions.

First, the lease expires or the tenant violates a lease provision. Then, the landlord gives the tenant notice of the violation or their intention to end the tenancy (in states that require notice prior to eviction).

Next, the tenant is typically given a certain amount of time to comply with the notice or move out of the rental unit (in states that require notice prior to eviction).

Then, the landlord files the eviction case with the court, the court decides whether or not the tenant must move out, and if so, the tenant will be given a certain amount of time to move out (which could be immediately).

Finally, if the tenant fails to move out within the court-ordered deadline, or within the deadline laid out by state law, then states typically require law enforcement officials to forcibly remove the tenant from the rental unit.