State Evictions

North Dakota Eviction Process

November 8, 2023

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Eviction In North Dakota

If you own and rent properties in the state of North Dakota, you are responsible for complying with North Dakota eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in North Dakota. 

North Dakota’s eviction laws can be found at NDC § 47-32-01 to 47-32-04. 

North Dakota Eviction Process 

  1. Landlord serves a three-day eviction notice. 
  1. Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court. 
  1. Court serves tenant a summons. 
  1. Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment. 
  1. Writ of restitution is served and tenant must move out. 
  1. Sheriff returns to forcibly remove the tenant. 

In North Dakota, tenants can be evicted for any of the following reasons: 

  • Entering and taking possession of a property via force, intimidation, fraud, or stealth 
  • Menacing conduct or threats 
  • Unlawfully holding over and keeping possession by force or by menaces and threats of violence 
  • Failing to pay rent for three days after rent is due 
  • Continuing in possession after the property has been sold and having received a termination notice 
  • Continuing wrongly in possession after a judgment in partition or after a sale under an order or decree of a district court 
  • Unreasonably disturbing other tenants’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises 
  • Violating a material term of the written lease agreement 

(NDC § 47-32-01) 

1. Landlord Serves a Three-Day Eviction Notice 

If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve a North Dakota eviction notice (also known as a Notice of Intention to Evict) and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are two possible eviction notices a landlord may send in North Dakota: 

  • Rent Demand Notice: 3 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 required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than three days after receipt of the notice) (NDC § 47-32-01(4)). 
  • Lease Violation Notice: 3 days to quit (downloadable here). If a tenant violates another lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than three days after receipt of the notice) (NDC § 47-32-02). The landlord is not required to give the tenant an opportunity to cure or fix the violation. 

For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s 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 Complaint for Eviction (downloadable here) in North Dakota District Court. The complaint form includes the following: 

  • The county and case number 
  • The names and information of both parties 
  • The type of lease (oral or written. If written, a copy of the lease should be attached) 
  • The rent rate, late fee amount, and corresponding lease term 
  • The tenant’s lease violation or reason for eviction 
  • Any damages and delinquent rent the landlord is claiming 
  • The landlord’s signature, address, and the date 

The landlord will also need to pay an $80 filing fee at this time. 

Note that North Dakota eviction laws strictly limit landlords’ ability to combine other claims with eviction claims besides claims for rent or damages. If you are seeking to file other claims related to the tenancy, you will need to file those separately. 

3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons 

After the landlord files a claim, the court will issue a Summons (downloadable here) which must be completed. The summons demands the tenant’s presence at a court hearing, which will be scheduled three to 15 days after the summons issuance date (NDC § 47-32-02). The summons also includes: 

  • The county and case number 
  • The names and information of both parties 
  • The courthouse and city of the haring 
  • The rental property’s address 
  • A warning that failure to appear may result in a default judgment in the landlord’s favor 
  • A statement that the tenant has the right to have their case heard and decided by a Judge of the District Court instead of a Judicial Referee, and that the tenant must file a written request within seven days to use this right 
  • The date and landlord’s signature 

This summons must be served with a copy of the complaint to the tenant by the sheriff or other authorized process server (the fee to have the sheriff serve the summons is $30). If the sheriff/process server cannot serve the documents personally after attempting at least once between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., an affidavit will be filed, and copies will be mailed to the tenant at their last-known address. The sheriff will also post a copy on the front door of the rental unit (NDC § 47-32-02). 

The court documents must be served at least three days before the hearing date for personal service within the county, or at least seven days before the hearing if service is made elsewhere or by any other mode (NDC § 47-32-02). 

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, a judgment will be entered for the landlord’s immediate restitution of the premises. A writ of execution will also be issued, authorizing the tenant’s removal from the premises (NDC § 47-32-04). 

5.  Writ of Restitution is Served and Tenant Must Move Out 

Once issued, the writ must be served to the tenant by the sheriff’s office for a fee of $30. North Dakota law does not specify how long tenants have to move out of the property after the sheriff serves the writ to the tenant. Typically, tenants get between 24 hours to a few days to move out.  

However, North Dakota law does state that if a tenant can show that their immediate removal would cause a substantial hardship on them or their family (except in cases in which the tenants were disturbing others’ peace), the court may “stay” (delay) the execution of the writ for a reasonable period no longer than five days (NDC § 47-32-04). If granted, the tenant will have additional time to move out of the property. 

6. Sheriff Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant 

If the tenant does not move out within the timeframe provided by the writ and/or the court, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant and restore possession of the property to the landlord. The sheriff can charge a fee of $50 for execution of the writ. 

Evicting a Squatter in North Dakota 

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 North Dakota, squatters must have lived in the property for 20 continuous years (or ten years if the squatter also has had color of title and paid property taxes) to invoke North Dakota squatters rights and claim right of possession (NDC § 28-01-04; 47-06-03). 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota, you should: 

  1. Call local law enforcement. 
  1. Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter. 
  1. If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer. 
  1. If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office. 
  1. Send the squatter an eviction notice as per North Dakota eviction law. 
  1. If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process. 
  1. Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer. 

North Dakota Eviction Cost Estimates 

This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in North Dakota, 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. 

Action  Approximate Cost 
Filing fee  $80 
Service of court summons  $30 
Service of writ of execution  $30 
Execution of writ   $50 
Legal fees  $500-$10,000 
Average locksmith fees  $160 
Storage fees for abandoned property  Varies 
Tenant turnover costs  Varies 

North Dakota 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.  

Action  Duration 
Eviction notice period  3 days 
Service of summons  At least 3 days before the hearing (if personally served) or 7 days before the hearing (for out-of-county or service by other mode) 
Eviction hearing   3-15 days after issuance of summons 
Issuance of writ of restitution  Immediate 
Maximum continuance  5 days 
Time to quit after writ is posted  Unspecified, usually 24 hours to a few days 
 Total   2-8 weeks 

Court Documents 

Additional Resources 

  • Overview of North Dakota eviction process and forms—This packet may be provided to you when you ask the clerk to file an eviction action. It provides instructions for filling out eviction forms and completing the legal process. 
  • Eviction for Landlords – A page about eviction on the state of North Dakota Courts website. 
  • Eviction Forms packet – This pdf includes all the forms required for eviction complaints, including instructions on how they should be completed and filed. 

Conclusion 

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 North Dakota 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. 

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