A landlord has to go to court to evict a tenant in Indiana. The state's Small Claims Court manual says alternative tactics such as locking the tenant out or shutting off the utilities are illegal. Until a court eviction order comes through, the tenant can stay in the rental.
Grounds for Eviction
Usually the only way the landlord can evict a tenant before her lease expires is if she's violated the lease terms. Nonpayment of rent is a common reason, but any breach of the lease agreement will do.
If the rental is monthly rather than a long-term lease, the landlord can simply notify the tenant that he doesn't want to continue the tenancy. The Indiana Statutes say a rental is assumed to be month-to-month if the landlord and tenant haven't agreed otherwise.
The statutes also say that to terminate — determine, in formal legalese — a long-term lease instead of renewing, the landlord should notify the tenant at least three months before the year ends.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent on time or otherwise breaks the lease, the landlord must normally give him at least 10 days to fix the problem or move out. Should the tenant catch up on the rent before the deadline or fix whatever the problem is, the eviction is canceled. If the landlord has allowed late rent payments in the past, she has to specifically notify the tenant that this is no longer acceptable before claiming late payment is grounds for eviction.
The statutes allow a landlord to skip notification in a few circumstances. If the rental agreement specifies the tenancy is only for a set time, that would qualify. So would the tenant completely trashing the apartment.
The landlord must write an eviction notification in the format described in the statutes. The form should be hand-delivered to the tenant, given to someone else living at the rental, or posted prominently there.
Going to Court
Telling a tenant "get out!" doesn't force a tenant to go. To compel the tenant to leave, the landlord must file suit in court. Indiana Legal Services says the court will notify the tenant of the lawsuit and the hearing date. If the court finds for the tenant, the eviction ends. If the landlord wins, the court will set a date for the tenant to move out. If she doesn't leave, the sheriff will remove her.
Eviction doesn't give the landlord the right to keep the security deposit. The Small Claims manual says the landlord can withhold money to cover unpaid rent or repair damage to the apartment. Within 45 days of receiving the tenant's new address, the landlord must send her however much of the deposit wasn't spent on rent or repairs, and an itemized account of how any money withheld was spent.