Steps of the eviction process in Kentucky:
- Landlord serves notice to tenant.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
- Writ of restitution is issued.
- Possession of property is returned.
From start to finish, an eviction in Kentucky can be completed in three to six weeks. However, it can take longer depending on the type of eviction and whether or not the rental unit has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Grounds for an Eviction in Kentucky
In Kentucky, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or not upholding responsibilities under Kentucky law. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In Kentucky, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 7 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Kentucky the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days) or exceptions for weekends or court-observed holidays.
Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In Kentucky, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out.
For tenants who reside in a rental property that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, a 30 days’ notice to vacate can be given for tenants that pay month-to-month.
For rental properties that have not adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, a 1 month’s notice to vacate can be given for tenants that pay month-to-month.
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities
In Kentucky, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under Kentucky landlord tenant law. Landlords must allow tenants to fix (“cure”) the issue to avoid eviction. Regardless of the issue, the landlord must give 14 days’ notice to fix the issue or vacate. If the issue is not fixed, the landlord may file the eviction lawsuit on the 15th day.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Complying with all building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety.
- Keeping the premises clean and safe.
- Disposing all garbage, ashes and waste in a clean and safe manner.
- Keeping all plumbing fixtures clean.
- Using all appliances and fixtures in a reasonable manner.
- Not destroying, removing, defacing, damaging, or impairing any part of the premises.
- Not disturbing neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
Examples of lease violations:
- Having an unauthorized pet or guest.
- Parking in an unauthorized area.
- Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.
- Illegal activity.
If the tenant lives on a rental property that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and repeats the violation within a 6-month period, the landlord does not have to offer the tenant a second chance to fix it and may serve them a 14 days’ notice to vacate.
Illegal Evictions in Kentucky
In Kentucky, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount equal to three times the periodic rent and reasonable attorneys’ fees.
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:
- Complaining about housing or building code violations to the landlord.
- Filing a complaint to a government authority about a housing or building code violation.
- Joining a tenant’s union or similar organization.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in Kentucky by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person.
- Mailing a copy to the tenant via regular or certified mail.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
7-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Kentucky, the landlord can serve them a 7-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 7 calendar days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.
30-Day Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease (and has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act) in Kentucky, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Amount|
1-Month Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease (and has not adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act) in Kentucky, the landlord can serve them a 1-Months’ Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant one month to vacate the premises.
14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate
In Kentucky, if a tenant commits a violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to fix the issue or move out. The landlord may file the eviction lawsuit on the 15th day.
14-Day Notice to Quit
In Kentucky, if a tenant commits a repeated violation of their lease or legal responsibilities within 6 months (and the rental property has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act), the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 calendar days to move out without the chance to cure the issue.
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
As the next step in the eviction process, Kentucky landlords must file a complaint (or “warrant”) in the appropriate court. For example, in Jefferson County, the filing fee is $185 and an additional $40 per tenant if a forcible removal by a sheriff is requested.
The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant by the sheriff or constable at least three days prior to the eviction hearing, through one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy with the tenant’s family member; or
- Posting a copy at the rental unit AND mailing a copy to the tenant via regular (first class) mail.
3 days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to the eviction hearing.
Step 3: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment
Kentucky state law doesn’t address how quickly the eviction hearing must be held after the summons and complaint is issued. The local jurisdiction shall determine the timeframe.
Tenants are not required to file a written answer in order to appear at the hearing and object to the eviction.
If the tenant fails to appear for the hearing, the case will not be continued. The judge may issue a default judgment in favor of the landlord, meaning the tenant will have to move out.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of restitution will be issued and the eviction process will continue.
Tenants may file an appeal, but it must be done within 7 days of the date the judgment was issued in favor of the landlord, depending on whether or not the rental property is in a location that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
The eviction process will be stopped while the appeal is being decided, meaning the tenant will not have to move out unless the appeals court rules in favor of the landlord or returns the case to the lower court, which rules in favor of the landlord.
If no appeal is filed, the eviction process will continue.
3-28 days, depending on whether or not the rental property is in a location that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Step 4: Writ of Restitution Is Issued
The writ of restitution is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff returns to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.
The writ of restitution may be issued immediately at the hearing; but it can’t be executed (or acted on) until 7 days after the judgment has been issued in favor of the landlord.
The tenant will be forcibly removed from the rental unit if they don’t move out before the writ is executed.
Immediately. The writ of restitution may be issued at the hearing.
Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned
Tenants will have 7 days to move out of the rental unit once the writ of restitution has been issued. This time period begins when the writ is issued by the court, not when the writ is delivered to the tenant.
7 days. The tenant has 7 days once the writ of restitution has been issued to gather their belongings and move out before a law enforcement officer is allowed to forcibly remove them from the property.
Kentucky Eviction Process Timeline
In Kentucky, an eviction can be completed in 3 to 6 weeks but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the Kentucky eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||7-30 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing Summons||3 Business Days|
|Court Serving Summons||3 Business Days|
|Tenant Response Period||7 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||3-28 Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Restitution||Immediately|
|Final Notice Period||7 Calendar Days|
Flowchart of Kentucky Eviction Process
For additional questions about the eviction process in Kentucky, please refer to the official legislation, Kentucky Revised Statutes §383, for more information.