States impose eviction laws to prevent landlords from kicking tenants out without a good reason or proper notice. Tenants usually get 30 or 60 days notice to move, starting with a formal notice to vacate. Should you ignore a valid notice to vacate, you may find yourself on the losing end of an eviction lawsuit, also known as an unlawful detainer. Depending on the complexities of your case, the eviction process can take weeks or months to complete. You may have only a matter of hours or days to move out if your landlord wins the eviction, depending on the case.
Officers Can Remove Tenants Who Don't Move
In some states, a judge may order you to immediately vacate the rental and move out on the same day. However, courts usually give tenants 1 to 4 weeks to move out. A writ of possession allows the landlord to put you and your belongings out within a certain period of time.
Should you choose to remain, the landlord can hand the court-ordered eviction judgment over to local law enforcement officers, such as a sheriff or marshal, to handle the move-out process. The sheriff or marshal gives you a notice, often by posting it on your door, stating the amount of time you have to vacate -- usually 24 hours to a number of days. The officer then can return to physically remove you if you still haven't moved out. In come cases, hiring local authorities to force a tenant out can take up to several weeks.
You must pay the landlord the fees he incurs to evict. This includes legal fees, filing fees and the costs to remove and store property left behind. Landlords cover the upfront fees and may keep your security deposit and sue you for the remainder to recoup these expenses.
Moving Out Involves Taking Your Belongings
In a few states, landlords can get rid of personal property that tenants leave behind. However, landlords usually must prove that the tenant intended to permanently abandon personal belongings when surrendering possession of the rental. In other states, landlords must store an evicted tenant's belongings and notify them of this, giving them a chance to recover the items.
Circumstances That May Extend Your Time in the Rental
Eviction laws tend to be tenant friendly to ensure that renters get a fair chance to receive and respond to a landlord's demands to move. You may object to a court-ordered eviction and file for more time to remain in possession of a rental unit, further delaying your move. The formal filing is called a Motion to Stay the Writ of Possession. You can ask the court for more time to move for any number of reasons, including:
- The eviction was unfair
- You weren't properly served with eviction papers
- Someone in your household is sick or disabled and you need more time to find adequate housing