Indiana Eviction Process
October 24, 2023
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Eviction In Indiana
If you own and rent properties in the state of Indiana, you are responsible for complying with Indiana eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process for landlords wondering how to file a petition for eviction in Indiana.
Eviction Process in Indiana
- Landlord serves an eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Writ is served and tenant gets 48 hours to five days to move out.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Indiana, a tenant can be evicted for nonpayment, violating the lease, committing waste to the premises, or engaging in illegal activity (e.g., use of illegal drugs) on the premises.
1. Landlord Serves an Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve an Indiana eviction notice and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Indiana:
- Rent Demand Notice: 10 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than ten days after receipt of the notice) (IC § 32-31-1-6).
- Lease Violation Notice: Reasonable period 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. Indiana law does not specify the specific length this notice should be, only that it must be reasonable (IC § 32-31-7-7). If the tenant commits waste to the property (severe damage or destruction) or holds over after the lease has ended and becomes a tenant at sufferance, the landlord is not required to send advanced notice to quit before filing for eviction (IC § 32-31-1-8).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 45 days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant commits a public nuisance/illegal activity on the premises (e.g. use of illegal drugs, prostitution, etc.). The notice should include the date, time, and location the nuisance was first discovered and be either hand delivered to the tenant or sent by certified mail (IC § 32-30-8-5).
All eviction notices should be served by one of the following methods:
- Direct delivery to the tenant
- Direct delivery to another person residing at the premises (the server must explain the contents of the notice)
- If no person can be found, the notice can be posted on a conspicuous part of the premises.
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
The next step in the Indiana eviction process is filing the complaint. If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file an action for ejectment or recovery of possession (the eviction lawsuit) with the clerk of any local Indiana court. The form required for the eviction lawsuit may be called a Complaint for Ejectment (e.g., Vanderburgh County), an Affidavit for Default (Eviction) (e.g., Hamilton County), or similar, depending on the court and the county.
The complaint or affidavit should state the grounds for the eviction process and include the names of all parties, the rental property address, and the notice service date. The landlord will also need to pay a filing fee, which varies by court. In Indiana Small Claims Court, for example, the filing fee is $97.
After the case has been properly filed, the court could review the complaint/affidavit and other evidence and decide to issue an immediate order of possession before trial. However, for immediate possession to be granted, the court must find probable cause that the property is in imminent danger of destruction or serious harm (IC § 32-30-3-3). If this criterion is met, and an order is granted, the tenant may apply for an expedited hearing to be held with at least 48 hours’ notice, during which time the sheriff holds the property (IC § 32-30-3-4)
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
After the landlord files the complaint, the Clerk of Court will issue a summons to be served to the tenant. The summons includes, as per Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, Rule 4:
- The tenant’s name and address
- The court’s name, street address, and phone number
- The case number and title of the case
- The name, address, and phone number of the landlord’s attorney
- The time the tenant has to respond to the summons, and a statement warning the tenant that failing to respond or appear may lead to a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
The summons will set a date for the court hearing, which will be held:
- At least five days after the summons is served for most ejectments and small claims evictions (IC § 32-30-3-2).
- Within three days for emergency hearings filed due to the tenant’s committing or threatening to commit waste to the rental unit (IC § 32-31-6-5).
- Within 20 days for drug-related evictions (IC § 32-30-8-9).
- Within ten days for prostitution-related evictions (IC § 32-30-7-9).
The summons will demand that the tenant appear in court to deny the complaint and show cause why the judge should not remove them from the property (IC § 32-30-3-2).
The landlord must arrange for the summons and complaint to be served to the tenant via mail or by a sheriff (Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure, Rule 4). If the complaint was filed on paper with the court, the fee for service of the summons may be included in the case filing fee; if the case is filed electronically, the landlord will need to pay an additional fee of $28 for service of process (IC § 33-37-5-15).
4. 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. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue a writ of possession (Indiana law does not state a specific period in which the writ will be issued).
Before the writ is issued, however, the landlord is required to file a written undertaking of a specified amount and executed by a surety that ensures the landlord will pay the tenant for any damages they may have suffered if the order of possession was wrongfully ordered (IC § 32-30-3-6).
5. Writ of Possession is Served and Tenant Gets 48 Hours to Five Days to Move Out
The writ will be directed to the sheriff or another officer responsible for executing the order. The writ includes:
- A description of the property
- A direction to provide notice and seize possession of the property
- Attach a copy of the landlord’s written undertaking should it later be proved that the right of possession is legally the tenant’s
- A statement informing the tenant of their right to except to the surety upon the landlord’s undertaking or file for repossession of the property
After the landlord pays a $28 process server fee, the sheriff will serve the writ/order to the tenant by one of the following methods as per IC § 32-30-3-9:
- Delivering it to the tenant (or their agent) personally
- Leaving it at the tenant’s residence or with a person of suitable age and discretion there
- If no usual place of abode is known, the order can be mailed to the tenant’s last known address.
After the writ is served, the tenant gets at least 48 hours but no more than five days to move out (for drug- or nuisance-related evictions, the writ could be executed immediately) (IC § 32-30-3-10-11).
6. Sheriff Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
The final step in an Indiana eviction is retrieving back possession of the property. If the tenant does not move out during the designated period, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant and return possession of the premises to the landlord. There may be an additional fee associated with execution of a judgment or writ of possession, which varies by court.
Indiana law (IC § 32-31-4) details a precise process for the storage of tenant belongings after an eviction. If the tenant leaves behind any personal property, the landlord must, after giving the tenant notice of its location, store it at a warehouse or storage unit for at least 90 days after taking possession. There is one exception: if the tenant abandoned the premises, the landlord has no liability for the tenant’s belongings.
At any time during the 90 days, the tenant can freely retrieve (without making payment) any belongings classified as exempt. Exempt property includes property that is medically necessary, used for the tenant’s trade or business, and a week’s supply of clothing, blankets, or childcare items. To retrieve nonexempt property, the tenant is required to pay the costs of storage, transportation, insurance, labor, and other reasonable and related charges. If the tenant does not claim their property within the 90 days, the warehouse or storage facility may sell it.
Evicting a Squatter in Indiana
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. According to Indiana squatting laws, squatters must have lived in the property and paid property taxes for ten consecutive years to invoke Indiana squatters rights and claim right of possession (IC § 32-21-7-1, 34-11-2-11). Additionally, there are four more requirements for squatter’s rights in Indiana established by two court cases, Fraley v. Minger and Celebration Worship Center, Inc. v. Patrick Tucker and Carolyn P. Tucker:
- Control – The squatter must use and control the property normally (they have actual and exclusive possession).
- Intent – The squatter must demonstrate intent to claim full ownership of the property.
- Notice – The squatter’s actions must communicate notice to the legal owner of their intent and control (their possession is visible, open, and notorious).
- Duration – The squatter has satisfied these requirements continuously for ten years.
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 Indiana to legally obtain the title to the property. 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 Indiana, 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.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Indiana eviction laws.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process in Indiana.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Indiana Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Indiana, 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||$100 for civil trial court; $35 for small claims court|
|Service of court summons||$28|
|Service of writ of possession||$28|
|Execution of writ of possession||Varies by court/county|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Indiana 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||10-45 days|
|Eviction hearing||3-20 days after service of summons|
|Issuance / service of writ of possession||Unspecified|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||48 hours to 5 days|
|Total||3 weeks to 4 months|
- Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure – This document includes the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Indiana.
- Indiana Trial Court Fee Manual – This fee schedule lists the various court costs in each Indiana court.
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 and Indiana laws on eviction, 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.