You’re thinking of evicting a tenant, or perhaps you’re a tenant who’s received an eviction notice and now you’re wondering, “How long does an eviction take?”
This varies depending on the state, of course, but in general, an eviction can take a couple of weeks to several months. We examine the factors that affect how long an eviction takes.
Table of Contents:
- Steps of the Eviction Process – Each step of an eviction takes a certain amount of time to complete, and must be done properly.
- Actions that Prolong the Eviction Process – Some things cause the eviction process to take longer, such as requesting a jury trial.
- Speeding Up the Process – Several states have an expedited/emergency eviction process.
- Avoiding an Eviction – The quickest way to remove a tenant from the rental unit may be by talking with them.
- Length of Evictions by State – We look at general eviction timelines for each state.
Steps of the Eviction Process
Typically, the eviction process follows the steps below, though this can vary depending on the state in which the rental unit is located:
- Written eviction notice is given to the tenant
- Eviction case is filed with the court after notice period expires
- Tenant files a response
- Hearing is held
- Order for eviction is issued
- Tenant is removed from rental unit
In most states, landlords are required to give their tenants a written eviction notice before they can file an eviction action with the court.
That’s not true for all states, however, or even for all types of evictions.
The reason for the eviction, such as nonpayment of rent, illegal activity, or violation of the lease/rental agreement, can also affect the length of time the tenant must be given to move out or comply with the notice. Some states may also have notice requirements to remove squatters.
This can add another 3 to 180 days to the eviction process, depending on the reason for the eviction and the state the eviction is filed in.
Eviction Case is Filed with the Court
In most states, once the eviction notice has been given to the tenant, and the compliance deadline on the notice has passed, the landlord may file an eviction case with the appropriate court for the rental unit’s location.
Other states don’t require landlords to send tenants a written eviction notice at all before they’re allowed to file the eviction case in court.
Some states start the process with the court case and then require landlords to give tenants an eviction notice after the case has been filed.
The case could be filed immediately to several weeks after the eviction notice has been given to the tenant (if a written eviction notice is required).
Tenant Files a Response
This isn’t required in all states, but some states require the tenant to file a written response to the eviction complaint.
In those states, the hearing typically can’t be held (and sometimes isn’t even scheduled) until after the tenant files their response with the court, explaining why they don’t think they should be removed from the rental unit.
Waiting for the tenant’s response deadline to pass can add another 2 to 21 days (or more) to the eviction process if required in your state.
Hearing Is Held
The hearing is what everyone’s been waiting for—the moment when the judicial officer (or jury!) decides whether the tenant has to move out or can remain in the rental unit.
In some states, and the District of Columbia, two hearings are set automatically: an initial hearing to work through the issues and hopefully avoid eviction, and a second hearing to rule on the eviction if the landlord and tenant couldn’t come to an agreement at the initial hearing.
Of course, having to go through two hearings will take longer than evictions in states with only one hearing.
The hearing may also be continued or postponed for several reasons which we look at in more detail later in the article.
The hearing may not be held for several days to several weeks after the eviction notice is given to the tenant, depending on the state.
Eviction Order is Issued
While it’s easy to assume that the official eviction order will be issued on the same day as the hearing, that’s not true for all states.
Some states won’t issue the eviction order unless the landlord specifically requests it, and others won’t issue it until several days after the hearing to give the tenant time to remove themselves from the rental unit before they’re forcibly removed.
The order could be issued immediately to several days after the hearing.
Tenant is Removed from Unit
Finally, the day the landlord has been waiting for has arrived—the tenant (if they haven’t moved out already) is forcibly removed from the rental unit.
However, depending on the state, this might not happen immediately after the hearing.
Some states won’t forcibly remove the tenant unless the landlord specifically asks the court to have the tenant removed, while in others, tenants have from 24 hours to several days after the eviction order is delivered to actually move out before law enforcement returns to the unit to physically remove them.
This can take 24 hours to several days.
Actions That Prolong the Eviction Process
Every landlord wants a speedy eviction hearing in order to get the rental unit back as soon as possible. Unfortunately, evictions can drag on for weeks or months depending on several factors, including:
- Failure to properly serve documents on the tenant
- Requesting a jury trial
- Filing a written response
- Tenant appearing at the hearing
- Requesting a continuance/postponement
- Filing an appeal
- Requesting a stay of execution
Failure to Properly Serve Documents
It’s a landlord’s worst nightmare—you’ve filed your eviction complaint with the court, paid the filing fee, and sent documents to the tenant, only to learn that your eviction case is going to be dismissed because you missed something along the way.
Nearly all states have specific procedures regarding how an eviction notice must be served on the tenant AND how a court summons and eviction complaint must be served on the tenant.
If the landlord fails to properly serve either the eviction notice or the court summons/ complaint on the tenant, the eviction case could be dismissed, and the landlord will have to start all over by filing a brand new complaint and paying another set of filing fees.
Requesting a Jury Trial
In several states, but not all, tenants or landlords can ask to have the eviction hearing held in front of a jury.
The court will usually need to push a jury trial date out further on the calendar since jurors need to be brought into court specifically for the hearing.
The hearing itself may also take longer if the jury needs more time to reach a verdict, has questions for the court, or can’t come to a decision about the case.
Tenant’s Written Response
Some states, like Georgia, allow tenants time to respond to or “answer” the eviction complaint that’s been filed by the landlord.
In those states, even if the tenant doesn’t respond, a hearing either can’t be scheduled or won’t be held until after the deadline has passed for the tenant to file a response.
This can take anywhere from 2 to 21 days (or more), depending on the state.
Tenant’s Appearance at Hearing
Not all states require tenants to file a written response/answer to the eviction complaint.
In those states, tenants can still object to the eviction by attending a hearing. If the tenant fails to appear for a hearing, the court may automatically rule in the landlord’s favor.
If the tenant does appear at the hearing, then the process can take longer, since the court has to make a ruling after hearing from both the tenant and the landlord, and the tenant could be allowed to request a jury trial or continuance, which we look at in more detail below.
Requesting a Continuance / Postponement
In many states, tenants can ask the court to continue or postpone the hearing by moving the trial to a later date—but they must usually have a good reason.
A good reason could include:
- Needing more time to find legal counsel
- Needing more time to gather witnesses
- Needing more time to produce physical evidence
- Change in life circumstance (illness, illness of family member, etc.)
If the court chooses to grant the continuance/postponement, the trial could be pushed back for up to a month, depending on the state. (Landlords are usually allowed to ask for a postponement, as well.)
Tenant Files an Appeal
If the tenant chooses to file an appeal then this will add even more time to the eviction process. In several states, tenants cannot be removed from the rental property until after the appeal has been filed, heard, and a ruling has been issued on the appeal.
This could add a few weeks (or more) to the eviction process.
Tenant Requests a Stay of Execution
Finally, tenants can ask the court for a stay of execution on the eviction order.
This means that the tenant asks to have more time to move out than they would normally be allowed to have under state law.
Typically, tenants must have a good reason for the stay of execution, such as:
- Inability to find similar housing
- Change in schools for children
- Job issues
- Health issues (tenant or family member)
- Other “undue hardships” if required to move immediately
A stay of execution could last for up to one year depending on which state the rental unit is in and the reason for the stay of execution.
Speeding Up the Process
You may be wondering if there’s any legal way to get an eviction to move more quickly. The short answer is yes—but it depends on the state and the reason for the eviction.
Expedited / Emergency Evictions
In several states, such as Missouri, landlords can file an expedited or emergency eviction—that is, a sped-up eviction that moves much more quickly than a regular eviction would.
Expedited/emergency evictions are typically only allowed under certain circumstances, such as if the tenant is involved in illegal activity or is posing an immediate threat to the landlord, other tenants, or the rental property itself.
An expedited or emergency eviction may still require written notice, but the notice period is normally shorter than in regular eviction actions; however, some states don’t require landlords to provide their tenants with any written notice at all for an expedited eviction.
Finally, in many states that allow expedited or emergency evictions, the tenant has less time to move out of the rental unit once the eviction order has been issued than they would for a regular eviction.
Expedited vs Self-Help Evictions
This type of eviction is not the same as a self-help eviction, where the landlord decides to move the tenant out without involving the court system. Self-help evictions are illegal in nearly every state. Learn more about what to avoid here.
Avoiding an Eviction Altogether
Of course, the fastest way to get a tenant out is to find legal ways to avoid the eviction process altogether.
Maybe you can talk the tenant into complying with the lease, or making up missed rent payments without having to go to court to try and force their compliance.
Having a good relationship with your tenants before an issue comes up is key here, since they’ll be more likely to discuss any issues with you before things become a major problem, and are more likely to want to work with you on correcting any lease violations.
Another key to avoiding the eviction process completely is having a good tenant screening process in place at the very beginning so you can hopefully weed out troublesome tenants before they even sign a rental agreement with you.
How Long an Eviction Takes by State
The chart below shows the general amount of time it takes to complete an eviction in each state.
Keep in mind, the times included below assume that the tenant has not asked for a jury trial, filed an appeal, or requested a stay of execution, any of which will add to the amount of time it takes to complete the eviction.
|State||General Length of Eviction|
|Alabama||Around 4 weeks to several months|
|Alaska||Up to 2 months|
|Arizona||1 to 6 weeks|
|Arkansas||6 to 8 weeks|
|California||5 to 8 weeks|
|Colorado||2 weeks to 4 months|
|Connecticut||4 to 7 weeks|
|Delaware||1 to 3 months|
|Florida||2 to 10 weeks|
|Georgia||1 to 3 months|
|Hawaii||1 to 4 months|
|Idaho||1 week to 2 months|
|Illinois||2 weeks to 5 months|
|Indiana||3 weeks to 4 months|
|Iowa||3 to 8 weeks|
|Kansas||3 weeks to 3 months|
|Kentucky||3 to 6 weeks|
|Louisiana||2 to 5 weeks|
|Maine||1 to 2 months|
|Maryland||3 weeks to 5 months|
|Massachusetts||1 to 3 months|
|Michigan||2 weeks to 2 months|
|Minnesota||2 weeks to 3 months|
|Mississippi||2 to 8 weeks|
|Missouri||1 to 3 months|
|Montana||3 to 8 weeks|
|Nebraska||1 to 2 months|
|Nevada||1 to 6 weeks|
|New Hampshire||1 to 2 months|
|New Jersey||3 weeks to 4 months|
|New Mexico||2 to 7 weeks|
|New York||1 to 5 months|
|North Carolina||1 to 3 months|
|North Dakota||2 to 8 weeks|
|Ohio||5 to 8 weeks|
|Oklahoma||2 to 7 weeks|
|Oregon||2 to 8 weeks|
|Pennsylvania||1 to 2 months|
|Rhode Island||1 to 4 months|
|South Carolina||4 to 9 weeks|
|South Dakota||5 weeks to 3 months|
|Tennessee||4 to 8 weeks|
|Texas||4 to 10 weeks|
|Utah||1 to 4 months|
|Vermont||4 to 7 months|
|Virginia||2 to 4 months|
|Washington||1 to 3 months|
|West Virginia||1 to 3 months|
|Wisconsin||2 to 4 months|
|Wyoming||3 to 4 weeks|
|Washington, D.C.||2 to 8 months|
As you can see, the amount of time an eviction may take varies widely between states, and often depends on the reason for the eviction, as well.
Factors Affecting Eviction Length
How quickly a tenant can be evicted from a rental unit varies from state to state, but is generally dependent upon the following:
- The steps of the eviction process in the state in which the rental unit is located.
- Whether the tenant or landlord has done anything to drag out the process, such as requesting a continuance.
- Whether the eviction is an emergency/expedited eviction (which will be a much quicker process than a normal eviction).
Typically, it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months to evict a tenant, depending on the reason for the eviction and the state in which the rental unit is located.