Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of Kentucky and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for Kentucky
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent & rental agreement violations, among others
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 7-Day Notice to pay or quit, after which Forcible Entry & Detainer suit may be filed
- Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 30-Day Notice for month-to-month tenants; for fixed-term tenants, until end of term
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 15-Day Notice to Cure
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: 7 days
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Kentucky?
In the state of Kentucky, as in most other states, the amount of time required to evict a tenant is unpredictable. The eviction process is a multi-step legal proceeding. As such, there are specific time-lines a landlord must follow when seeking to evict a tenant and the amount of time the eviction process takes depends heavily upon these timelines. As an eviction has serious ramifications for a tenant, the state has established a detailed process to ensure that the process isn’t used frivolously.
The first step in the eviction process in the state of Kentucky is the termination of the lease or rental agreement. In order to terminate a lease, the landlord must have a legal reason and must provide written notice in accordance with the state requirements.
The notice must be delivered to the tenant by personal service, by service to another adult living on the property, or by tacking a copy of the notice at the property. If the landlord chooses to tack a copy of the notice at the property, he/she should also mail a copy through registered or certified mail to assure that the notice was properly served.
A landlord may evict a tenant who is renting without the benefit of a lease so long as the appropriate notices are provided prior to the landlord filing a Complaint and Summons with the court.
Reasons for Eviction in Kentucky
The state of Kentucky requires the landlord to have a legal reason for seeking an eviction unless there is no written lease. There are various reasons that a landlord may wish to seek to evict a tenant. The most common reasons an eviction are sought are:
- Failure to pay rent
- Violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement
Regardless of the reason the landlord is seeking to evict the tenant, the state of Kentucky has established a specific process that must be followed for the eviction process to be considered legal.
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
In the state of Kentucky, a landlord may seek to evict a tenant for failure to pay rent. However, before the landlord may file a suit with the court, he/she must first provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to pay rent or quit the property (K.R.S.A. 383.660(2)). If the tenant fails to pay the full amount due by the date indicated on the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
The only time a landlord may evict a tenant when there is no cause is when the tenant is renting without the benefit of a written lease. In such instances a tenant is considered an “at-will” tenant and the landlord may begin the eviction process so long as the appropriate notice has been given beforehand. If the tenant remains beyond the time allowed in the appropriate notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
In the state of Kentucky, a landlord is required to provide the tenant with a written 15-Day Notice to Cure (K.R.S.A. 383-660(1)). If the tenant fails to remedy the violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement within the specified time, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
If a tenant should commit the same lease or rental agreement violation a second time within six-months, the landlord may serve him/her with a 14-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit (K.R.S.A. 383-660(1)). At this point the landlord is not required to offer the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation. If the tenant remains on the property beyond the 14 days allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
The state of Kentucky, like many states, provides no specific guidance on evicting a tenant for illegal activity. However, most tenants will find that their lease specifies the landlords options for dealing with illegal activity. The landlord should proceed in accordance with the specifics laid out in the lease. If the tenant remains beyond the time laid out in the lease, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant When There is no Lease?
In the state of Kentucky a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant for no cause so long as the appropriate notice is provided. To evict a month-to-month “at-will” tenant (a tenant renting without the benefit of a written lease), the landlord must first provide a 30-Day Notice informing the tenant of his/her intention and giving them 30 days to relocate. If the tenant fails to move within the 30 days provided, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
If a tenant is renting for a fixed-term, the landlord must wait until the end of the fixed term. The landlord is not required to provide notice once the term of the rental agreement is ended unless there was an agreement that this must be done. Once the term of the fixed-term rental arrangement has been reached, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in Kentucky?
In the state of Kentucky, it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant based on a tenants sex, color, race, religion, nation of origin, or familial status. It is also illegal for a landlord to seek an eviction as retaliation against a tenant who has:
- Filed a complaint with a government agency regarding code violations or issues dealing with the health and safety of the rental property
- Organized or joined a tenants union or organization
- Complained to the landlord regarding a violation of his/her legal maintenance obligations as spelled out in K.R.S.A. 383-595).
Once a Notice Has Ended
The landlord may file a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit with the district court of the county where the rental property is located. The tenant will receive a copy of the complaint with the time and date for the hearing. If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction, he/she must attend the hearing. Both the tenant and landlord will be allowed time to present their evidence. If the tenant fails to attend the hearing, the judge may provide a default judgement for the landlord. It should be noted that a tenant that chooses to fight an eviction may be required to pay for the landlord’s court costs.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the court finds in favor of the landlord, the judge may order the tenant to vacate the property within seven days. The tenant also has seven days to appeal the court’s decision. If the tenant remains on the property after the seven days, the landlord may obtain a Warrant of Possession. This warrant, also referred to as a “set-out warrant,” is provided to the sheriff to post on the property and informs the tenant of the day on which the sheriff will return to remove him/her.
If the tenant fails to remove all personal property the landlord will find that the state of Kentucky provides no guidance as to how to deal with this property. However, the sheriff can generally assist with guidance as to who is responsible for removing the items.
Make sure to read the Kentucky Revised Statutes Ann. §§ 383.660 & 383.695 before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.