Landlords who are seeking to evict a residential tenant have to consider the county in which the property is located to adhere to the proper Kentucky eviction process. If the property is located in any of the following counties, then landlord must follow the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) in evicting the tenant:
Barbourville, Bellevue, Bromley, Covington, Dayton, Florence, Fayette, Georgetown, Jefferson, Ludlow, Melbourne, Newport, Oldham, Pulaski, Shelbyville, Silver, Grove, Southgate, Taylor Mill and Woodlawn.
No Kentucky landlord is exempt from following the appropriate Kentucky eviction process. Self-eviction measures that do not use the court system in trying to evict a tenant such as denying the tenant access to the property, shutting off utilities, refusing to remedy or repair unsafe or dangerous conditions or threatening the tenant are illegal. A tenant in these cases may recover not more than 3 times the periodic rent, attorneys fees and may terminate the lease with all prepaid rent returned.
For those counties that follow the URLTA, the landlord in nonpayment of rent evictions must serve a 7-Day Eviction Notice indicating the amount of rent due and that the lease will terminate if the rent is not paid by a certain date. This Kentucky eviction notice must also advise that a court action to evict the tenant will be initiated once the notice period has expired and the rent remains unpaid.
For any other eviction reason in those counties following the URLTA, the Kentucky eviction notice is 14-days to remedy the lease violation or to vacate, or the tenant will face an eviction action in court. The eviction notice must specifically state the reason for the eviction and that the tenant can remedy it within the notice period or the rental agreement will terminate on a specific day.
Reasons for noncompliance may include material violations of the lease agreement such as having unauthorized persons living on the property or by failing to reasonably care for the premises if it constitutes a violation of the applicable housing or building code.
If the same act or omission constituting the noncompliance occurs within the following 6 months, the landlord needs to give the 14-day notice specifying the violation but may terminate the rental agreement without the opportunity for the tenant to remedy the breach.
For those counties not following the URLTA, the landlord must serve a Kentucky eviction notice that is either specified in the lease or, if none, 30-days regardless if it is for nonpayment of rent or for a violation of the lease, though a reason must be specified. If the lease is a month-to-month or it is expiring, the landlord needs to give a 30-day notice in all counties without the necessity of stating a reason.
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Service of Notice
A notice to evict must be served by personal service on the tenant, to any other adult who is living on the property, by tacking it to the door or leaving it in a conspicuous location. The landlord should also mail the notice by registered or certified mail so that proper service is not an issue.
Forcible Detainer Action
Should the tenant fail to comply by the end of the notice period and remain in possession, the next step in the Kentucky Eviction Process is for the landlord to begin an action in Forcible Detainer. The Writ of Forcible Detainer states the location, time and date of the hearing and is served by the Sheriff on the tenant.
At the hearing, both sides have an opportunity to present their arguments for eviction or to offer any defenses. The burden of proving nonpayment of rent or of the lease violation is on the landlord who must show evidence of the lease agreement, receipts, photographs, witnesses and other admissible evidence.
The forcible detainer action is for possession only. The landlord must file a separate action to recover any past due rent or damages.
Depending on the nature of the eviction case and its circumstances, the tenant can offer a number of defenses to the eviction, including the following:
- Landlord accepted payment of the rent or any portion. Unless there is a non-waiver clause in the rental agreement, the landlord probably waived the right to continue with the eviction if it is for nonpayment of rent.
- Breach of landlord’s obligations. If the landlord failed to repair or fix a condition that affected the health or safety of the tenant, the tenant may have a defense of constructive eviction. The tenant must have provided written notice of the condition to the landlord giving him or her 14 days to fix the problem or the lease would terminate in 30 days.
- Improper service of the notice to evict.
- Improper notice was served.
- Retaliation. The landlord raised the rent or is evicting the tenant because the tenant complained about the property’s condition to a government agency or to the landlord, or the tenant participated in a tenants’ rights union.
- Discrimination. The landlord is evicting the tenant based on his or her religion, national origin, creed, race, color, sex, family status or disability.
Warrant of Possession
If the landlord proves his or her case, the judge may order that the tenant has 7-days to vacate. The tenant has this 7-day period to appeal. If the tenant remains in possession after 7-days, the landlord must obtain a Warrant of Possession.
The warrant, also called a “Set-Out Warrant,” is given to the Sheriff to post on the property, which advises the tenant that the Sheriff will appear on a set day to evict the tenant. On the eviction day, the Sheriff will supervise the landlord who is responsible for removing the tenant’s belongings and for changing the locks, if necessary.
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