- What is an eviction?
Eviction is when a landlord makes a tenant leave their home. The tenant is the person who rents the home. The landlord is the owner of the property. The landlord must give the tenant notice to leave. If the tenant doesn’t leave, the landlord must go to court to get an eviction order. In Kentucky, an eviction order is called a Forcible Detainer Judgment. The landlord can’t force the tenant to leave the home without an eviction order.
After the landlord files in court, a hearing is set. It is important for the tenant to go to this hearing. Both the tenant and the landlord get to tell their side of the story. After hearing both sides, the judge decides if they are going to give the landlord an eviction order.
If the judge gives the landlord an eviction order, the tenant has 7 days after the hearing to move out. If the tenant doesn’t move out after 7 days, the Sheriff can remove the tenant and his/her things from the home.
- How do I know if my landlord wants to evict me?
Your landlord sends you a written notice saying you must move out by a certain date. The notice should be dated, say why you are being evicted, and signed by the landlord. The landlord might mail this to you or hand it to you or another adult in your home.
If the landlord already filed a case in court to evict you, you get 2 notices from the court:
- an Eviction Notice: Notice of Eviction Hearing Trial; and
- a Forcible Detainer Complaint
The Sheriff may serve these papers on you by handing them to you or another adult in your home. They can also post them at your home, like on your door, or mail them to you by certified or registered mail.
NOTE: It is very important to keep all these notices and papers, even the envelopes they come in. They can be very important for your cases.
If you live in Barbourville, Bellevue, Bromley, Covington, Dayton, Elsmere, Florence, Lexington-Fayette County, Georgetown, Louisville-Jefferson County, Ludlow, Melbourne, Morgantown, Newport, Oldham County, Pulaski County, Shelbyville, Silver Grove, Southgate, Taylor Mill and Woodlawn, there are other things the notice must say because these counties/cities use the Uniform Residential Landlord Act.
- Does my landlord have to give me written notice to evict me?
In most cases, yes. The landlord can hand the notice to you or another adult living in your home, post the notice at your home, or mail the notice to you by certified or registered mail.
- How much time do I have to move out?
If you have a written lease, look at the lease. Look for the words evict, notice to vacate, or lease termination. The lease should say how much time you have to move. If it does not say how much time, then you have 30 days from time of the notice to move.
- Can the landlord turn off my utilities, change my locks or move my things out of the home after the notice has passed?
No. After the time in the notice or lease has passed, the landlord has to file a case in court called a Forcible Detainer. The Sheriff serves the papers. They can hand them to you or an adult living in the house, post them at your home, or mail them to you by certified or registered mail.
- Can I pay my rent to the court instead of to the landlord if there are health or safety problems with my home?
No. There are very specific steps you have to follow if you want to try to fix the problem yourself. There may be other actions you can take but talk to a lawyer about those actions.
- URLTA Jurisdictions
READ THIS IF YOU LIVE IN Barbourville, Bellevue, Bromley, Covington, Dayton, Elsmere, Florence, Lexington-Fayette County, Georgetown, Louisville-Jefferson County, Ludlow, Melbourne, Morgantown, Newport, Oldham County, Pulaski County, Shelbyville, Silver Grove, Southgate, Taylor Mill and Woodlawn.
Does my landlord have to give me written notice to evict me?
[URLTA ONLY.] Yes. The landlord can hand you the notice, hand it to any adult living in your home or mail it to you by certified or registered mail. If the notice is mailed to you, make sure you write down when you signed for it.
How much time does the landlord have to give me if I am renting month-to-month?
[URLTA ONLY.] NON-PAYMENT OF RENT. If you don’t pay your rent on time, the landlord has to give you a written notice giving you 7 days to pay the rent in full. You have 7 days to pay the rent from the date you get the notice.
[URLTA ONLY.] NOT FOLLOWING WHAT THE LEASE SAYS. If you do something your lease prohibits, like getting a pet when the lease says “no pets” OR if you don’t do something the lease says you have to, like putting the utilities in your name, the landlord must give you written notice saying what the issue is and that your lease ends after 14 days unless you fix the problem.
If you fix the problem and tell the landlord that the problem is fixed, the lease won’t end and there should not be an eviction. Tell the landlord in writing that you fixed the problem and when. Date and sign the letter. Mail the letter to the landlord. The best way to mail it is by certified mail. Keep a copy for your records.
[URLTA ONLY.] OTHER REASON. If your landlord wants to evict you for some other reason, the landlord must give you a written notice giving you one month to move. One month is usually 30 days.
How much time do I get to move out if I am renting week-to-week?
[URLTA ONLY.] The landlord has to give you a notice 7 days before the date he wants you to move.
Can my landlord evict me if there are health or safety problems in my home and I complained to housing/building code enforcement agency?
[URLTA ONLY.] No, the landlord can’t evict you for up to 1 year after you make a complaint. If your landlord tries to evict you after you make a complaint, you have to be able to show that the landlord knew about the complaint, that you are not behind on rent and there are no other valid reasons for the eviction that your landlord can claim. Get a copy of the report from the housing/building code enforcement agency and proof of when it was sent to the landlord.
Can I not pay rent to the landlord or pay rent into court if there are health or safety problems in my home?
[URLTA ONLY.] No. There are very specific steps you have to follow if you want to try to fix the problem yourself. There may be other actions you can take but talk to a lawyer about those actions.
- I paid rent after the landlord gave me an eviction notice. Can my landlord still evict me if he took the money?
No. If your landlord took money from you after you got an eviction notice, the landlord should not go on with the eviction. If you give the landlord any money, get a receipt or have someone with you as witness when you pay.
If you got eviction papers from the Court, you should still go to the hearing to make sure the landlord doesn’t go forward with the case. Take copies of your receipts or other proof of payment, or bring your witness with you, to prove you paid.
- Can my landlord refuse to renew my lease?
Yes. Your landlord can choose to not renew for any reason except:
•Discrimination based on sex, race, family status, disability, or other reason prohibited by law.
•If you have a protective order and the protective order is the landlord's reason for not renewing the lease.
•Retaliation (getting back at you) because you asked for repairs, or because you defended your rights under the lease or law.
The landlord has to tell you ahead of time if they are not going to renew your lease. The lease should say how much time you have to move. If you are in public housing or subsidized housing, your landlord must have “good cause” to not renew your lease. For example, there must be a serious violation of your lease.
If you don’t have a lease, the landlord should give you 1 month's notice to move. The eviction notice must say that you have 1 month to move or tell you the date to be out. One month is usually 30 days.
- What should I do after I get court papers?
Read everything carefully. Keep them in a safe place. One of the papers is a Forcible Detainer Complaint and tells you why the landlord is evicting you. It also says the date the landlord gave you notice to move. Compare the details to the written eviction notice the landlord gave you. Here is what the Forcible Detainer Complaint looks like: https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/216.pdf.
The "Eviction Notice: Notice of Eviction Hearing Trial by Court" has the date, time and place you should go to court. The notice looks like this: https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/215.pdf.
- Can my landlord and I work out an agreement before the hearing?
Yes. If you do, you should:
- put the agreement in writing with specific dates for the things that need to be done
- make sure both you and your landlord sign and date the agreement
- keep a copy of the agreement with signatures
If you reach an agreement, go to the hearing to make sure the Court knows about the agreement and to make sure the landlord doesn’t try to continue the case without you.
- Do I have to have a lawyer to go to court?
No. You don’t need a lawyer in court, but it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you go if you can.
- Do I have to go to court?
In general, yes. Tell the judge your side of the case, and the reasons why you shouldn’t be evicted. Also tell the judge if the landlord didn’t give you the legal amount of time to move out.
If you don’t go to court on the listed date and time to tell your side of the story, the landlord will most likely win. The court issues a “Forcible Detainer Judgment” and you have to move out of the home within 7 days after the court date.
- What should I expect when I go to Court?
Get to the courtroom at least 15 minutes before the time listed on the notice. Sometimes, the Court will “call roll” to see if everyone is there. When your case is called, stand up and say you are here.
The landlord or their lawyer and you can reach an agreement before the hearing starts. The Court has agreement forms, called a Forcible Detainer Settlement Agreement that you can use: https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/218.pdf.
If you can’t reach an agreement with the landlord, your case is decided by the Judge.
Once the hearings start, your case is called again. When your case is called, stand up and go to one of the tall stands in the front of the judge. Do not approach the judge.
The judge asks the landlord why they want you to move out. Listen carefully and let the landlord finish. Do not interrupt!
When it’s your turn, you need to swear that what you tell the court is true. The judge asks you questions. This is your chance to tell the judge if anything the landlord said or any of the facts in the Complaint are wrong. This could be things like: the amount of rent the landlord says you owe, the date the landlord says they gave you the notice, the fact that the landlord took money from you after you got the eviction notice. If you have already moved out, make sure you tell the judge that. NOTE: For additional information on going to court, see our information under Court Basics.
- After the judge hears the case, what happens?
If the judge thinks the landlord proved his/her reasons for wanting to evict you, the judge enters an order evicting you. It is called a Forcible Detainer Judgment (https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/217.pdf). The court gives you a copy. Make sure to keep the order.
If the judge doesn’t think the landlord proved his/her case, the judge dismisses it and no eviction order is signed. Ask the Court for a copy of whatever paper shows the case was dismissed. Make sure you keep this paper.
- What happens if I am evicted?
If you don’t appeal, you and all your property must be out within 7 days. If you and all your property are not out in 7 days, the landlord can get an order called an Eviction Notice: Warrant for Possession from the Court telling the sheriff to go into your house and set you and your things out. The order looks like this: https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/220.pdf
- What if I think the judge decided my case wrong?
You can appeal your case to a higher court. It is reviewed by a different judge. You must file your appeal within 7 days of the hearing.
- How do I appeal my case?
If you decide to appeal your case, talk to a lawyer. Appeals can be complicated, and papers have to be filed with the Court very quickly. If you can’t afford a lawyer, contact your local legal aid program.
You have to write a “Notice of Appeal” and file it with the Circuit Court Clerk. You have to pay a filing fee. You must also pay the amount of rent due, as well as future rent as it becomes due during your appeal.
If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you can ask the Court to waive it. You need to fill out this form: https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/026.pdf. Or you can fill out the form online using a guided interview, that will walk you through the process: https://a2j.org/guide/consent/5feb267c-5bee-4415-b6ab-db35b8559769
- Can my landlord and I make an agreement, even after the judge's decision?
Yes. Put the agreement in writing. Make sure you date it and make sure both you and the landlord sign it. Keep a copy for your records. Keep the written agreement in a safe place, especially if your landlord agrees to let you stay in the home. If the landlord goes back on the agreement and tries to evict you, show the agreement to the sheriff.