Kentucky Small Claims Court Process

Kentucky Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: February 3, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $2,500
Deadline to File 5, 10 or 15 years
Filing Fees Vary by court
Appeal Deadline 10 Days

Small Claims Court Basics in Kentucky

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to a judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Kentucky?

A typical small claims case in Kentucky takes two to three months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $2,500.

To attempt to recover a higher amount, the suit must be filed as a civil case in District Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claims Case in Kentucky?

The time limit for filing a small claims case in Kentucky depends on the type of case filed:

  • 5 years: Violation of an oral lease agreement, security deposit claims
  • 10 years: Violation of a written lease agreement (executed after July 15, 2014)
  • 15 years: Violation of a written lease agreement (executed on or before July 15, 2014)

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Kentucky?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, Small Claims Court is a division of District Court. Small claims are filed in the District Court in the county where the defendant lives or does business.

Circuit Court clerks of Kentucky handle court filings for both Circuit Court and District Court. To contact your local court clerk, you can use the court directory. Scroll down to ‘Find a Court’ and enter your county in the drop-down box.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Kentucky

Step 1: Complete a Complaint form. Attach any documents you have to support your claim (e.g. lease agreement, apartment photos).

Step 2: File the Complaint in person at the Office of Circuit Court Clerk. Check with the court clerk to determine how many copies are required. The filing procedures vary by court.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the filing fee for a small claims case varies by court. Contact your local court clerk to determine the filing fees in your area.

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing a Motion for Waiver of Costs and Fees.

Small Claims Court Process in Kentucky

After filing a small claims case in Kentucky, the court clerk will schedule a hearing date and issue a Summons, and the Complaint and Summons forms are served on the defendant.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. After you file the Complaint, service on the defendant will be completed by certified mail by the clerk or personal delivery by the sheriff. There is an additional fee for either option. Discuss the options for service on the defendant when filing the Complaint.

Step 2: Contact witnesses. If you think that it would help your argument, ensure that any witnesses are available to attend the trial. For example, you may ask the apartment manager to serve as a witness to how clean you left the apartment after moving out.

You may need to subpoena a witness if you are unable to get them to attend voluntarily by filing and serving the defendant a Subpoena.

Step 3: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before they decide to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Kentucky

If you win the judgment in Kentucky, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

Either party can appeal the decision to the Circuit Court within 10 days after the issuance of the judgment.

When the judge issues the judgment, they will determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are bank or wage garnishment, property seizure, or judgment lien. To initiate these processes, you would need to file a case at the Office of Circuit Court Clerk to seek court-enforced repayment of the judgment.

You have 15 years to collect a judgment before it expires. A judgment collects interest at a rate of 6% per year.