The Basics of Uncontested Eviction
We have found that almost every property owner has or will eventually have to deal with filing an eviction. While those who file often are fully aware of the procedure, the new or “lucky” property owner often does not know the timeline in the process. A process it is indeed, and there are many steps along the way. The initial filing of the eviction is only the first step in a process in which the paperwork passes through many hands, and eventually ends on the day when the Sheriff meets us at the door and gives yus possession of the premises. This article will set out the timeline for an UNCONTESTED eviction and give you an idea on why a typical tenant eviction takes between 20 to 45 days from beginning to end.
1. The Three Day Notice, Seven Day Notice to Terminate, Agreement to Vacate or Non-Renewal Notice has expired.
2. The Lease and Notice is reviewed by FPME.
3. The “Complaint” and “Summons” is generated by FPME.
4. The “Eviction Package” consisting of the “Complaint”, “Summons”, attachments, stamped enveloped and checks for the Clerk of Court and the Process Server (or Sheriff in some counties) is hand delivered to the Clerk of Court.
5. The Clerk of Court files the eviction by entering the information into the court computer system and in many counties, scans the documents into their system.
6. The Clerk of Court mails a copy of the “Complaint”, “Summons” and attachments to the tenant in the envelope your attorney has provided to them.
7. The “Summons”, “Complaint” and attachment are picked up by the Process Server or Sheriff’s Deputy.
8. The Process Server or Sheriff’s Deputy goes to the rental unit and attempts to serve the tenant.
9. If the tenant is not home, the Process Server or Sheriff’s Deputy must make a return trip no less than 6 hours later, and if the tenant is still not home, tapes the Complaint, Summons and attachments to the door. The tenant is now SERVED.
10. The Process Server or Sheriff’s Deputy then enters the information into their computer system and generates a “Return of Service”, which tells the Clerk how and when the documents were “Served”. The Process Server faxes the Return of Service to FPME.
11. The Process Server or Sheriff’s Department clerk then files the “Return of Service” with the Clerk of Court.
12. The Clerk of Court enters this information into the computer system and files the “Return of Service” in the file.
13. The tenant now has five full business days, not including Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays, to “Answer” the Complaint by writing a letter to the Court giving the reasons why he/she should not be evicted.
14. If the tenant does not file an “Answer” to the Court, the case is UNCONTESTED. Should the tenant “Answer” properly with the court then a trial date is made. At that time the hiring of an Attorney is required or the property owner may represent themselves in court. This situation is extremely rare.
15. If the Clerk of Court is satisfied that the tenant has not filed an “Answer”, the Clerk of Court will enter a “Clerk’s Default”, file this and enter it into the computer system. NOTE: The Clerk of Court must go through all the mail it has received by the Default date, or it will not enter the “Clerk’s Default”. This means that if the Clerk of Court is behind in opening mail, a delay can occur.
16. Once the “Clerk’s Default” is entered, the file is brought to the Judge by the Clerk along with the unsigned “Final Judgment” and stamped envelopes for mailing to the tenant.
17. The file is now with the Judge.
18. The Judge reviews the file and if everything is in order, signs the “Final Judgment”. If the Judge is busy, backed up, on vacation, in a Judge’s conference or stuck in trial, a delay can occur in signing the “Final Judgment”.
19. The Judge signs the “Final Judgment”, and his/her Judicial Assistant mails out the “Final Judgment” to FPME and the tenant.
20. FPME tracks the file and often knows that the “Final Judgment” has been signed before the mail arrives.
21. A decision now will made whether to move to phase two. FPME will check the unit, and if we are absolutely sure the tenant has abandoned, and nothing is in the unit, and no one has been in the unit for a full 15 days, Then possesion can be taken at this time. NOTE: We recommend moving on to phase two and that we do request a “Writ of Possession” and finish up the eviction. THE EVICTION APPEARS OVER, BUT YOU HAVE NOT ACTUALLY COMPLETED IT IF YOU DO NOT REQUEST A “WRIT OF POSSESSION” AND MEET THE SHERIFF AT THE DOOR.
22. FPME submits a “Writ of Possession” to the Clerk, who “issues” it.
23. A check is attached to the “Writ of Possession” form, which is given to the Sheriff’s Department with the issued writ.
24. The Sheriff’s Department processes the “Writ of Possession” into their system and assigns it to a Sheriff’s Deputy.
25. The Sheriff’s Deputy goes to the unit and either tapes the “Writ of Possession” to the door or hands it to the tenant.
26. The “Writ of Possession” gives the tenant between 24 and 48 hours to vacate the premises, sometimes a longer period due to weekends and holidays.
27. The Sheriff’s deputy calls FPME and tells FPME that he/she has posted the Writ of Possession and asks you if the tenant has vacated. FPME SAYS: “I don’t know and we want to meet you at the property when you execute the Writ of Possession”. FPME does not say, “I will check the unit,” or “Yes, the tenant has vacated.”
28. FPME meets the Sheriff’s Deputy at the unit and changes the locks; the Sheriff’s Deputy removes the tenant, and FPME will take all the tenant’s belongings to the property line.
a. If the unit is full, the tenant is not present, and FPME feels the tenant may have not known about the eviction. FPME recommends consulting an Attorney.
b. The unit has some belongings, trash, etc.; FPME will remove it all to the property line.
c. FPME NEVER makes an agreement with the tenant that FPME will extend the Writ of Possession or allow the tenant to “come back later” and retrieve the belongings.
FINALLY, FPME ALWAYS WILL CALL YOUR LAWYER IF SOMETHING IS ODD, IF WE EXPERIENCE PROBLEMS WHEN EXECUTING THE WRIT OF POSSESSION, OR IF IT APPEARS THAT THE TENANT IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND, BUT THE UNIT IS FULL OF BELONGINGS AS IF THE TENANT DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE EVICTION.