Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Kentucky can take around three to six weeks, depending on the type of eviction and whether or not the municipality/town/city in which the rental unit is located has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (read more).
Introduction. Eviction is a legal process. For a valid and lawful eviction process in Kentucky, a landlord must follow the states rules and procedures. If there is no legal cause for eviction, the landlord must wait until the tenancy expires. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Kentucky.
- Kentucky’s Landlord/Tenant Act. In Kentucky, each local government may choose whether or not to adopt the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. This means that the information contained in this article may or may not be applicable, depending on whether the area in which the rental unit is located has adopted the Act.
Step 1: Notice is Posted
Landlords in Kentucky can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:
- Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, notice may be served giving the tenant the option to pay rent in order to avoid eviction.
- Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease/rental agreement, the landlord may give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
- No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy as long as proper notice is given.
- Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for joining, supporting, or organizing a tenant organization or union.
- Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, the normal eviction process may not be applicable (read more).
Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.
Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent
A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.
According to Kentucky law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods (if any) are addressed in the lease/rental agreement.
Once rent is past due, landlords may be required to provide tenants with a 7-Day Notice to Pay, depending on whether or not the rental property is in a location that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. If the rental property is not located in the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, a tenancy at will may be ended by giving the tenant a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
This notice gives the tenant the option to pay the past due rent amount in full within seven days in order to avoid eviction.
If the tenant does not pay the rent due by the end of the notice period and remains on the property, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process with the court.
Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement
A tenant can be evicted in Kentucky if they do not uphold their obligations and responsibilities under the terms of a written lease/rental agreement.
Kentucky landlords must provide tenants with a 14-Day Notice to Comply.
Typical lease violations include damaging the rental property, having too many people residing in the rental unit, having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy or a noncompliance that materially affects the health and safety of others.
Illegal activity may be included in this category.
If the tenant fails to correct the issue by the deadline and remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
If the tenant corrects the issue but violates the same issue within a six-month period, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement with a 14-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit. Note, that this period of notice is for rental properties that have adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease
In the state of Kentucky, if tenants “holdover,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.
Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.
The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy and whether the rental unit is in a location that has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
- Week-to-Week – If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Expiration of Written Lease – If a tenancy originally began with a written lease, and the lease term expired, the landlord must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Quit.
- Location That Hasn’t Adopted the Act – For tenants at will or at sufferance, landlords must provide a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served
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.
- 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.
Three days. The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least three days prior to the eviction hearing.
Step 3: Court Hearing and 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 seven 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 seven 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 seven 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.
Seven days. The tenant has seven 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
Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Kentucky. With that being said, these estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.
- Initial Notice Period – Between 7 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
- Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – Three days prior to the eviction hearing.
- Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – Varies by location.
- Issuance of Writ of Restitution – Immediately upon entry of judgment for the landlord.
- Return of Possession – Seven days after judgment in favor of the landlord.
Tenant’s Defense Against Eviction Lawsuits. A tenant may have legal defenses against the eviction. Legal defenses could include grounds such as harassment or discrimination against the tenant, improper eviction procedures, or the landlord’s failure to maintain the rental property.
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.