Alaska Eviction Process
October 4, 2023
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If you own and rent properties in the state of Alaska, you are responsible for complying with Alaska eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Alaska.
Alaska’s eviction laws can be found at AS § 34.03.220-350.
Eviction Process in Alaska
- Landlord serves a seven-, five-, or ten-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant the summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant moves out or Peace Officer arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Alaska, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating another lease term, or engaging in illegal activity on the premises.
It’s important to note that if a landlord in Alaska accepts rent while knowing that the tenant is violating a rule or regulation of the lease agreement, the landlord effectively waives their right to terminate the rental agreement for that breach. For this reason, it’s especially important to initiate eviction in Alaska as soon as a tenant violates the lease.
1. Landlord Serves a Seven-, Five-, or Ten-Day Eviction Notice.
The procedure for eviction in Alaska starts with serving a Notice to Quit. If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve one of the following eviction notices and state that the tenant has the corresponding number of days to remedy the violation or move out:
- Rent Demand Notice: 7 days to pay or quit (downloadable here). If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent and late fees required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if they are not paid (not less than seven business days after receipt of the notice). Note that if a landlord accepts a partial rent payment after sending a written eviction notice, the landlord must extend the date for the eviction accordingly (AS § 34.03.220(b)).
- Notice for Unpaid Utilities: 3 days to cure; 5 days to quit. If a tenant fails to pay a utility bill and the public utility service discontinues service to the unit, the landlord must serve a written notice stating that the lease will terminate in five days if the utility bill isn’t paid in three days. The breach is considered remedied, (and the lease will not terminate) if the tenant reinstates the utility service, repays the landlord any reinstatement fees, and if no damage resulted from the discontinuance of service. However, if this happens to a tenant twice within a six-month period, the landlord need only send a three-day quit notice with no cure period (AS § 34.03.220(e)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 10 days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than ten business days after receipt of the notice) (AS § 34.03.220(a)(2)).
- Notice for Repeat Violation: 5 days to quit. If a tenant commits substantially the same breach within six months, the landlord need only send a five-day quit notice and is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to cure the breach (AS § 34.03.220(a)(2)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 24 hours to 5 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following:
- Deliberately inflicts substantial damage to the property (“substantial” damage is loss, destruction, or defacement of property exceeding $400).
- Engages in or permits another to engage in prostitution on the premises
- Engages in other illegal activity on the premises
Unconditional notices to quit are uncurable defaults of the rental agreement, so landlords in Alaska need only to wait out a notice period of at least 24 hours but no longer than 5 days (the period should be specified in the rental agreement) before filing for eviction (AS § 34.03.220(a)(1)).
Distraint for rent is abolished in Alaska, meaning that at no point during the eviction process can the landlord change the locks on a tenant’s unit and sell their belongings to cover a defaulting tenant’s rent bill (AS § 34.03.250). For all evictions, however, the landlord may recover actual damages and injunctive relief for the tenant’s noncompliance (AS § 34.03.220(c)).
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach at the end of the notice period, the landlord can then file a Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer form approved by the administrative director (downloadable here) in either the district or superior court in the judicial district in which the property is located. If the value of unpaid rent and damages is less than or equal to $100,000, the landlord must file in the Alaska District Court; if the value is greater than $100,000, they must file in Alaska Superior court.
The Complaint includes:
- The name of the court
- The case number
- Both parties’ names and dates of birth
- A description and location (address) of the rental property
- A specification of the plaintiff’s status in terms of interest in the property (e.g., sole owner, partnership, property manager, corporation, etc.)
- Whether there was a written rental agreement or a verbal agreement, and the date it was entered into
- The amount of past due rent
- Other damages, and their cost, type, and nature
- What kind of judgment the landlord seeks (e.g., possession, rent due, etc.)
The landlord must also attach a copy of the Notice to Quit that they served the tenant, and initial off on the complaint that they have done so. Lastly, the landlord will need to pay a filing fee of either $150 (for claims $100,000 or less) or $250 (for claims more than $100,000).
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
Once the complaint has been filed, the court will issue a Summons form (downloadable here) demanding the tenant’s presence at a court hearing no more than 15 days from the filing date. The summons must then be served to the tenant with a copy of the complaint under the provisions of Rule No. 85 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. This means service must be made at least two days before the hearing.
The landlord will need to arrange for service by choosing a process server (the clerk’s office should have a list of licensed process servers), or if a process server is not available, a peace officer or State Trooper may serve the documents. Each process server charges their own service fees, but the minimum amount is $45, plus an additional $20 for each mile over the first 25 that the processor must travel (AK R. Admin 11). The summons can only be served by mail if the tenant’s current address and whereabouts are unknown. After serving the summons, the process server will prepare a notarized Return of Service document, which serves as proof to the court that the defendant received the notice and is aware of the eviction hearing.
The tenant may be able to postpone the hearing if they are granted a continuance. There are two possible reasons for a continuance: Either the tenant needs more time to consult an attorney or to prepare their defense. A continuance cannot be granted to either party for longer than two days, and it is only permitted only if good cause is shown (AS § 34.03.285).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
After receiving the summons, the tenant has 20 days to file a written Answer to Forcible Entry and Detainer (Eviction) Complaint form (downloadable here). The Answer may include a counterclaim to the eviction complaint, to which the landlord must respond within another 20 days. Both claims will be decided at the eviction hearing. If either the landlord or tenant fails to respond to the claim/counterclaim, the other can get a default judgment.
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. The judgment will only decide who is entitled to possession of the property (monetary claims are decided at a separate damages trial).
If the landlord wins, the judge will order the tenant to leave the property by a certain date and time (usually within one to two weeks). The landlord may request a Writ of Assistance (downloadable here) at this time if they believe the tenant will not move out of the rental. Alaska eviction laws do not specify exactly how many days the tenant will get to move out before the writ is executed.
Either party can file an appeal after the hearing. The tenant may file an appeal within 30 days of the judgment, but it will not prevent the writ from being executed. If the landlord appeals, they must pay a $250 filing fee to the clerk of court, or $100 if the appeal is from small claims court (Alaska Appellate Rules).
6. Tenant Moves Out or Peace Officer Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant does not move out by the date the judge sets, the landlord will need to fill out the Writ of Assistance form (if not done already). This document gives a Peace Officer the authority to forcibly remove the tenant. After the court fills out the remainder of the writ and the judge signs it, the landlord pays a fee of $25 to have a local law enforcement agency serve the writ (AK R. Admin. 9(c)(10)). The landlord will need to arrange for the tenant’s removal with a Peace Officer or State Trooper, so it could take anywhere from a few days to weeks to schedule.
If the tenant abandons personal property on the premises, the landlord must follow the following process to dispose of it (AS § 34.03.260):
- Send a notice stating that the tenant has at least 15 days to remove the personal property.
- Store the items in a safe place with reasonable care, either at the rental unit or in a commercial storage unit. The landlord isn’t responsible for loss not caused by deliberate damage or negligence.
- If the tenant does not respond to the notice or agrees to pick up their belongings but does not do so within the notice period, the property is considered abandoned. The landlord may then sell, destroy, or otherwise dispose of the personal property.
- If the tenant removes the property after notice, the landlord is entitled to the storage cost for the period it was held. If the property was stored at the rental unit, the cost may not exceed the fair rental value of the premises. If it was stored with a commercial storage company, the cost should equal the actual charge for storage and removal.
Evicting a Squatter in Alaska
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Alaska, squatters can invoke Alaska squatters rights and claim possession if they have lived in the property for:
- 7 years with color of title, or
- 10 years because of a good faith, but mistaken belief that the property was within the boundaries of an adjacent real property that the squatter owned (AS § 09-45-052).
Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Alaska to legally obtain the title to the property. Squatters are not required to have paid property taxes to file for adverse possession, but it will most likely strengthen their case. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Alaska, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Serve the squatter an eviction notice as per Alaska eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Alaska Eviction Cost Estimates
How much do evictions cost in Alaska? This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Alaska, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Filing fee||$150 or $250|
|Service of court summons by process server||$45, plus $20 per mile over the first 25 travelled (for peace officers)|
|Writ of Assistance issuance and service fees||$25 + $45+|
|Notice of Appeal filing fee (if needed)||$250|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies (fair market value of rental unit or actual cost)|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Alaska Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the eviction process. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||24 hrs. – 10 days|
|Service of summons to tenant||At least 2 days before hearing|
|Tenant answer period||20 days|
|Maximum continuance period||2 days|
|Eviction hearing||15 days after filing|
|Service of writ of restitution||Varies|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||Varies|
- Notice to Quit (Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent)
- Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer
- Summons (Forcible Entry and Detainer)
- Return of Service Affidavit
- Answer to Forcible Entry and Detainer (Eviction) Complaint
- Writ of Assistance
- Eviction Booklet from Alaska public courts – This resource explains the eviction process for landlords in great detail, including the forms landlords will need to fill out and help with how to find out which court to file in.
- Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure, Alaska Rules of Administration, and Alaska Appellate Rules – These documents include the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Alaska.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures for eviction in Alaska, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.