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Evictions

If a tenant fails to pay rent or violates any terms of the rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant written notice of the violation and provide three (3) days in which the tenant can remedy the problem. The notice informing the tenant of the violation must be delivered to the tenant personally. But if the tenant is absent from his place of residence and usual place of business, a copy of the notice may be left with some person of suitable age and discretion at either place and a copy sent through the mail addressed to the tenant at his place of residence. If the place of residence and business cannot be ascertained, or if a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found, each of the following steps must be taken: (1) a copy of the notice must be posted in a conspicuous place on the property; (2) if a person residing on the premises can be found, a copy must be left with that person, and (3) a copy must be mailed to the tenant at the address where the property is situated.

If the tenant does not remedy the violation, the landlord cannot use force. Formal legal proceedings must be instituted. The advice of an attorney is recommended.

If a landlord pursues formal legal proceedings solely for the purpose of evicting a tenant due to nonpayment of rent, the legal proceedings must proceed quickly. The trial must be held within twelve (12) days after the lawsuit is filed with the court, unless the landlord requests a later date. The tenant must be given written notice of the action by being served with a copy of the summons and the complaint at least five (5) days prior to the court hearing. At the tenant’s request, the judge may grant a continuance, but only for two (2) days, unless the tenant provides the landlord with a security such as a sum of money equal to the rent due and owing. Such security would be deposited with the clerk of court. If a landlord is successful in a formal legal proceeding to evict a tenant, the tenant may be required to pay the landlord’s court costs and disbursements.

If a landlord wishes to recover rent that the tenant has failed to pay or to recover other damages, the landlord may institute legal proceedings. If the damages the landlord seeks are $3,000 or less, the action may be taken in small claims court. If the landlord is successful, the court will award damages, usually equal to the amount of unpaid rent. However, the court may require the tenant to pay three times the amount of damages suffered. A tenant may also be required to pay the court costs and the fees of the landlord’s attorney.