Evicting a tenant is a legal process that you must do the right way. Failing to follow the eviction process gives the tenant the right to sue you for illegal eviction, which can end up costing you thousands of dollars in court fees.
Landlords in Kentucky must follow the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) to evict a tenant legally. This Kentucky landlord tenant law clearly defines the eviction process that a landlord needs to follow when evicting a tenant in this state.
We’re going to explain the 2022 eviction process in Kentucky by breaking down each step you need to follow during the eviction process to keep yourself safe.
Step One: Provide a Notice to Quit
As a property owner, the first step of the eviction process is to provide your tenant with a Notice to Quit. A Notice to Quit technically occurs in the pre-eviction phase as this is your legal requirement to try to come to a settlement agreement without going through the eviction process.
A Notice to Quit lets your tenant know that you are taking action against them for a specific reason. The notice must be in writing, and it must include the following information:
- Why you are evicting the tenant
- (Examples: failure to pay rent, paying rent late, violating the lease agreement, staying past their lease date ends)
- How long the tenant has to pay, comply, or leave before the eviction process begins
The type of Notice to Quit you will need to send the tenant depends on what type of tenant you have.
|Lease Agreement / Type of Tenancy||Notice to Receive|
|Week-to-week||7-Day Notice to Quit|
|Month-to-month||30-Day Notice to Quit|
|Written lease expires||10-Day Notice to Quit|
|If the rental property belongs to a jurisdiction of fewer than 68,000 people, it is not covered by URLTA||30-Day Notice to Quit|
Step Two: File a Complaint
If the tenant has not complied with the Notice to Quit, you can file a formal complaint to begin the eviction process with the court. This formal complaint is called a warrant, and you must file it correctly for the eviction process to begin.
To file a complaint, you will need to:
- Fill out a Forcible Detainer Action at the county courthouse where the rental property is located
- Pay the recording fees to file the complaint
- (Fees include the recording fee and the Forcible Detainer Action fee)
Step Three: Serve the Tenant with a Summons and Complaint
The court will determine a date and time for the eviction proceedings and include it in the Summons served to the tenant. Kentucky law requires the Summons and Complaint to be served to the tenant by a sheriff or constable, and it must be served at least three days before the trial date.
The Summons and Complaint must be filed in one of the following ways:
- Personal service – the documents are served to the tenant in person
- Substituted service – the documents may be left with a member of the tenant’s family if the tenant is unavailable
- Posting and mailing – the documents are posted in a visible and secure location on the property’s premise near or at the entrance of the property, and a copy of the posting is mailed to the tenant
Once the tenant is served, there is nothing else for them to do until the court date. They are required to attend the eviction proceedings on the scheduled date on the Summons.
No Kentucky law requires the hearing to be held within a certain period. The local court determines the time when the trial can be heard.
Step Four: Attend the Court Hearing
Make sure you attend the court hearing so that you can begin the process of asking for possession of your property.
The judge in the court hearing will examine the evidence that is presented by the landlord. The evidence must show you have followed all of the steps of the eviction process according to the law, including the following documentation used throughout the lease period:
- Copy of rental agreement or lease agreement
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo or video evidence depicting the violations
If the renter is late to the court hearing or fails to appear, there will be no continuation of court, and the landlord will likely be awarded possession of the property.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has 7 days from the date of judgment to file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, the eviction process stops until the judge makes a ruling; however, the tenant must move out of the rental property during this time.
Step Five: Writ of Restitution is Issued to the Landlord
Once the judge has ruled in the landlord’s favor, a Writ of Restitution is issued. A Writ of Restitution informs the renter that they are ordered to vacate the property in seven days or else they will be forcibly removed.
In Kentucky law, a Writ of Restitution can only be used once the 7 day notice has passed. Kentucky landlord tenant law allows tenants to vacate the property within seven days of a judge’s ruling. After those seven days have passed, the tenant can be forcibly removed using the Writ of Restitution. It is only when a Writ of Restitution has been issued that a tenant can be forcibly removed.
The landlord cannot be part of the removal process. Kentucky law explicitly states that the landlord cannot be the one to forcibly remove a tenant. A sheriff or other law enforcement agency must be the ones to forcibly remove a tenant.
Step Six: Regain Possession
There are many cases where the tenant has left behind personal items in the rental unit after they have moved out. No law in Kentucky instructs landlords on how to handle items left behind by previously evicted tenants.
If evicted Kentucky renters leave behind any belongings, landlords should contact the tenants to give them a deadline that they must pick up their items if they want to keep them. Once the deadline date passes, the tenant can sell or dispose of the items.
What to Do if a Tenant Hires a Defense Lawyer
There may be cases where a tenant tries to win their eviction case by hiring a defense lawyer to fight the eviction. The defense lawyer may try to defend the tenant on grounds of harassment or discrimination by the landlord against the tenant. The defense lawyer will also examine the eviction process to make sure the landlord followed all of the legal steps in evicting his client. This is why you must keep thorough records and follow the eviction process in Kentucky. Failing to keep accurate records or following the eviction process can award the judgment in the tenant’s favor.
Things to Remember When Evicting a Tenant in Kentucky
- Keep thorough records of everything, including contracts, agreements, purchases made for the property, receipts, invoices, photos, video documentation, paid receipts from the tenant, and any correspondence between you and the tenant to back up your case. Keep physical copies as well as scanned copies of all of your documentation.
- You need evidence to evict a tenant so make sure you have the proper documentation showing why the tenant should be evicted. This can be a violation, breach of contract, late rent, no paid rent, or overstaying a lease.
- Provide the tenant with a Notice to Quit to let them know they need to settle the dispute or vacate the property before being evicted.
- File a Complaint with the court after the Notice to Quit has expired and the tenant has not settled the dispute.
- Have the tenant served with the Summons and Complaint and prepare for the court hearing by gathering evidence to support your argument for eviction.
- Attend the court hearing and request that the judge gives you a Writ of Restitution once the ruling has been given in your favor.
- Give the tenant seven days to vacate the property before having a law enforcement officer forcibly remove the tenant through the Writ of Restitution.
- Notify the tenant of any personal items left behind and give them a deadline date to pick the items up.
The eviction process in KY protects both you and your tenants during an eviction. Following the eviction process will allow the tenant to rectify the issue before going to court. If Kentucky renters fail to rectify the issue during the Notice to Quit phase, a formal complaint will need to be filed with the court system to finalize the eviction process.