What to do if your landlord tries to evict you

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The following information applies to places in Kentucky that have NOT adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA). The information below applies to all places in Kentucky EXCEPT these: Barbourville, Bellevue, Bromley, Covington, Dayton, Florence, Lexington-Fayette County, Georgetown, Louisville-Jefferson County, Ludlow, Melbourne, Newport, Oldham County, Pulaski County, Shelbyville, Silver Grove, Southgate, Taylor Mill and Woodlawn.

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How will I know if my landlord is trying to evict me?

If your landlord is trying to evict you, you will get one or both of these notices:

  • A written notice saying you must move out by a certain date,
  • A court notice (called Summons and Complaint) saying your landlord has asked the court to evict you.

Important! Do not throw out these notices. They could be important for your case.

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Does the landlord have to give me written notice?

In most cases, yes. Especially if you do not have a written lease, the landlord cannot ask you to move out or ask the court to evict you unless you get a 30-day written notice.

The landlord may:

  • Give the notice to you,
  • Give it to any adult who lives in your home, or
  • Leave it on your door.

     

If you do have a written lease, your landlord may not have to give you a 30-day notice. Read your lease. Look for the words eviction or lease termination. It will say what the landlord must do to evict you.

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What should I do if I get a written notice?

Read it carefully. It says:

  • The reasons the landlord wants to evict you, and
  • The date your landlord says you must move out. (That date should be at least 30 days from the day you get the notice.)

     

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Why did I also get a court notice? (Summons and Complaint)

To get an eviction order, your landlord must do several things, including filling out, filing, and having you served a court notice, called Summons and Complaint.

There must also be a court hearing. And at that hearing, the judge will decide to make an order to evict you or not. (The hearing date is on the Summons and Complaint.)

Important! In most cases, the landlord must give you a 30-day written notice to vacate. See: Does the landlord have to give me written notice?

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What should I do with the Summons and Complaint?

Read it carefully. It says the date, time, and place of your court hearing. It also has important information about your case, including:

  • Your landlord's legal reasons for the eviction, for example that your rent was not paid,
  • The date your landlord gave you written notice to move out,
  • Your landlord's name and address (or the name and address of your landlord's lawyer),
  • Your name and address, and
  • When and where to go to court.

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Can the landlord evict me even if I did not do anything wrong?

Maybe. If you do not have a written lease, the landlord may be able to evict you with 30 days' written notice, even if you do not owe rent and did not do anything wrong.

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Do I have to go to court?

If you do not want to be evicted, yes! At the court hearing a judge will decide if you will be evicted or not.

If you do not go to the hearing, the judge will decide without hearing your side of the case. That means you will probably get evicted.

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Do I need a lawyer?

You do not have to have a lawyer. But it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you go to court.

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Where can I find a lawyer?

To find a lawyer:

  • Look in the phone book under "Attorneys,"
  • Call your local bar association. Ask them for names and phone numbers of lawyers who can help you, or
  • Contact your local Kentucky legal services program to find out if they can help you.

     

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What will happen at court?

When it's your turn, the judge will call your name. Stand up and go to one of the tall desks.

Important! Do NOT go near the judge unless s/he asks you to.

The judge will:

  1. Ask the landlord why s/he wants you to move out, then

  2. Ask you if what the landlord said is true. This is your chance to tell the judge if anything the landlord said, or if anything on the Summons and Complaint is not correct, including:

    • the amount of rent owed,
    • your name,
    • your address, or
    • the date of written notice.
Then,
  1. If you have a written lease and/or rent receipts or other proof to support your case, ask the judge to look at them.

  2. Tell the judge if your landlord did not give you a written notice to move out at least 30 days before the Summons and Complaint.

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Important! Get to court early. You will need time to park, go through security, and find your courtroom. If you arrive late and the court already called your case, the judge may already have made an order to evict you.

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Should I bring proof to support my case?

Yes. Bring copies of:

  • Checks and receipts showing the rent was paid,
  • Letters to or from the landlord,
  • Photos of the condition of the place you are renting,
  • Your written lease, if you have one, and
  • Any other information that supports your case.

You will have a chance to show your proof to the judge.

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Can my landlord and I agree to settle the case before the court hearing?

Yes. If you and the landlord can make an agreement, you should:

  • Put your agreement in writing.
  • Have the landlord sign it, and you sign it, too.
  • Make a copy for the court and another for your records.
  • Go to court to show the judge what you and your landlord agreed.

The judge will then likely dismiss the landlord's case against you. If so, the clerk will give you a piece of paper that says your case is "dismissed."

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What if I lose my case?

If you lose, the judge will make an eviction order. That means you have 7 days to move out or fight (appeal) the judge's decision.

If you do not move out, your landlord can have the sheriff go to your home to make you leave. Your landlord cannot make you leave unless the sheriff is there.

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How do I appeal?

You have to fill out and file court papers with the court clerk. (The clerk will probably ask you to pay a filing fee.) You have 7 days to appeal.

The clerk will also require you to post an appeal bond. An appeal bond is a deposit that you leave with the court. The amount of the bond will be all of the back rent that the landlord claims you owe, plus any future rent due during the appeal.

If you win your appeal, and the court says that you do not owe back rent, the court will give you back the appeal bond money for the back rent. You will not get back the money for rent owed during the appeal.

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Can my landlord and I make an agreement, even after the judge's decision?

Yes, but put it in writing, and keep a copy for your records. Keep the written agreement handy, especially if your landlord agrees to let you stay. If the landlord goes back on your agreement and tries to evict you, show the agreement to the sheriff.

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What if I don't speak English well?

If you need an interpreter:

  • Call the Court before your hearing to ask for an interpreter, or
  • Tell the judge when you go to your court hearing. The court will find an interpreter for you. If you wait until the hearing to tell the court you need an interpreter, you will probably have to come back later on another date.

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Reviewed August 2009