Kentucky Eviction Process
October 24, 2023
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Eviction In Kentucky
If you own and rent properties in the state of Kentucky, you are responsible for complying with Kentucky eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s eviction laws can be found at KRS § 383.200-383.285 and 383.660-383.705.
Eviction Process in Kentucky
- Landlord serves a seven- to 14-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant the summons.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets seven days to move out or appeal.
- Sheriff arrives to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Kentucky, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease, or failing to uphold their responsibilities as per state law.
It’s also important to note that during the Kentucky eviction process, accepting partial payments or permitting behavior that violates the lease without initiating the eviction process constitutes a waiver of the landlord’s right to terminate the lease for that breach, unless otherwise agreed after the violation (KRS § 383.675).
1. Landlord Serves a Seven- to 14-Day Eviction Notice
If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve a Kentucky eviction notice and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible notices:
- Rent Demand Notice: 7 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, Kentucky landlords may 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) (KRS § 383.660(2)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 14 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 14 days after receipt of the notice) (KRS § 383.660(1)).
- Repeat Lease Violation Notice: 14 days to quit. If the tenant commits substantially the same violation as a previous one within a six-month period, no cure period is required, and the landlord may terminate the lease after providing 14 days’ notice (KRS § 383.660(1)).
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
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 a Forcible Detainer Complaint (downloadable here) with the Kentucky District Court of the county in which the property is located (KRS § 383.210(1)). Filing this complaint initiates a Kentucky eviction lawsuit.
The Forcible Detainer Complaint includes the following:
- The case number, court, county, and division
- The landlord and tenant’s names, addresses, and phone numbers
- The type of lease (oral or written) and the date it was signed
- The rental rate and period (when payable)
- A description of the tenant’s lease violation (e.g., nonpayment, failure to vacate, etc.)
- The date the landlord served the written eviction notice.
- The landlord’s signature
The landlord will also need to pay an initial filing fee of $40 to begin the eviction lawsuit (Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedures, Rule 3.03).
3. Court Serves Tenant the Summons
Once the complaint has been filed, the court will issue a summons or Notice of Eviction Hearing Trial by the Court (downloadable here) to be served with a copy of the complaint to the tenant. The summons will generally include the names and contact information of all parties, the name and address of the court, the time and date of the eviction hearing, and a warning that failure to appear at the hearing could result in a default judgment in the landlord’s favor. The tenant is not required to file a written answer with the court in order to contest the eviction at the hearing.
Kentucky state law dictates that an officer must serve the summons and complaint to the tenant at least three days before the hearing (KRS § 383.215). They will then return to the court to verify that the summons was served properly. The court may also issue subpoenas for witnesses at the landlord’s or tenant’s request (KRS § 383.230).
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 warrant, 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 district court will issue a Warrant for Possession (downloadable here), which is a formal order for the tenant’s removal from the rental property (KRS § 383.240).
5. Tenant Gets Seven Days to Move Out or Appeal
Either party can appeal the judgment to the circuit court within seven days after the judgment is entered. However, in order to do so, the party appealing must deposit with the circuit court clerk the rent due from the beginning of the eviction case through its pendency. At the conclusion of the appeal, the court will distribute the funds according to the judgment (KRS § 383.245, 383.255).
6. Sheriff Arrives to Forcibly Remove the Tenant
If the tenant has not appealed or moved out by the end of the seven days, the Warrant for Possession will be directed to the sheriff (or any constable) of the county, who will forcibly remove the tenant from the premises and return possession of the property to the landlord (KRS § 383.245). The sheriff can charge a fee of $7 per tenant for execution of the warrant.
Kentucky state law does not require landlords to store personal property left behind by the tenant after eviction.
Evicting a Squatter in Kentucky
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 Kentucky, squatters must have lived in the property for 15 consecutive years to invoke Kentucky squatters rights and claim right of possession (KRS § 413.010). 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky, 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 Kentucky 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.
Kentucky Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Kentucky, 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.
|Service of court summons||Varies by county|
|Service of warrant for possession||Varies by county|
|Execution of warrant for possession||$7|
|Appeal to circuit court||$60|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Kentucky 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||7-14 days|
|Service of summons to tenant||Varies|
|Eviction hearing||At least 3 days after summons is served|
|Appeal period / final notice period||7 days|
|Total||2 – 6 weeks|
- Forcible Detainer Complaint
- Eviction Notice: Notice of Eviction Hearing Trial by the Court
- Eviction Notice: Warrant for Possession
- Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedures – This document includes the specific rules of civil procedures and court policies in Kentucky.
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 Kentucky 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.