How Long Does an Eviction Take?

A landlord may decide to take an eviction action against a tenant for a variety of reasons including non-payment of rent, excessive damage to property, being a general nuisance, breaking the terms of a lease or remaining in the property after the lease term has expired. The time it takes to complete an eviction varies from state to state, depending on the local real estate laws. However most states have tenants rights and it can take between a few weeks and three months to complete an eviction. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without a court order.

Filing a Complaint in Civil Court

When you don't pay your rent or or are accused of any of the other actions warranting eviction, your landlord gives you a notice to leave the property at a certain date or cure whatever problem that is causing the eviction. If you don't comply, your landlord sues you by filing a complaint in civil court or the appropriate court in the particular jurisdiction. It takes a few days for you to be served papers by the court. You are then required to respond and appear in court for a scheduled eviction hearing. How soon this happens depends on the court's schedule and if you are served in a timely manner. If you eventually pay your rent or cure whatever caused the eviction action, you can ask your landlord to drop the suit but you typically will be charged for court and attorney fees. If you don't, the eviction procedure continues and you would be required to file an answer to the eviction complaint and appear in court. If you contest the eviction and hire a lawyer, the judge will set a trial date. If you don't file an answer and fail to appear at the eviction hearing, a judgment will be rendered against you in your absence, which will most likely be unfavourable to you and ordering you to leave the property. If at the hearing or at a trial you are found to be at fault, you will be ordered to vacate the property by a certain date. All of these steps can take several weeks.


Once the judge renders an eviction judgment against you, you will be served an eviction notice. In most jurisdictions, this will be done by the sheriff's department or some other officer of the court. The eviction notice will contain the exact date you are expected to leave the property. If you don't leave, your landlord can take further action requiring your removal. This may take a few extra days or weeks, but any time after your court-ordered vacate date, sheriff's deputies may show up at the property, forcibly remove your belongings, put them outside and secure the property.

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About the Author

Faith O has covered politics and general news in Washington DC, Chicago and Maryland. Her writing has appeared in the Associated Press, Prince George's Sentinel, Northwest Indiana Times, Chicago Defender and Daily Southtown, among others. She has a Masters of Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School and a Bachelor's degree from Hampshire College in Amherst.

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