The official term for an eviction case in Alaska is a Forcible Entry and Detainer. The eviction process can differ from county to county, but they more or less are the same:
This article details a summary for a landlord to refer to when evicting a tenant. Alternatively, a landlord can ask an attorney for legal help if they have any questions on landlord-tenant rights.
An eviction notice is usually a form that is filled out by the landlord that details their violation and whether or not a tenant can fix the issue. The notice period depends on the reason for eviction. This form is essential because, without it, the tenants may easily win the case.
1. Failure to pay rent or nonpayment of rent
The most common reason for eviction is failure to make a timely rent payment. A landlord can evict a tenant for failing to pay the rent due.
Rent is considered late in Alaska a day past its due. However, a grace period that gives more time to pay rent due may be available if indicated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start with the eviction process for not paying rent, the landlord must provide the tenant a written eviction form called a 7-Day Notice to Quit. This notice informs the renters that are required to move out of the property or pay the rent in 7 days in order to avoid eviction.
If tenants who are being evicted for failing to pay rent on time manage to pay all rental payments in full to the landlord before the 7 days are up, the entire eviction process stops, and they can continue staying within the rental premises.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A lease agreement can vary between tenants. Landlords and tenants are required to uphold the terms of the lease agreement at all times.
The landlord can evict the tenant for a lease violation. The landlord must provide the tenant a 10-Day Notice to Comply, which gives the tenant 10 days to fix the issue.
Lease violations include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Material health/safety violations
- Too many people are living inside the rental unit
- Housing a pet in a pet-free rental unit or rental premises, etc.
The landlord may continue filing for an eviction lawsuit if the tenant fails to resolve the issue and remains inside the rental unit after the given notice period.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal activity on the rental premises, the landlord must give them a written notice between 24 hours to 5 days to move out of the property.
A notice period of 24 hours is usually given to tenants who damage more than $400 worth of property.
Examples of illegal activity are, but not limited to:
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
Should the tenant remain on the rental premises after their notice period ends, the landlord may continue filing for an eviction case.
4. Utilities are unpaid
Utilities include electricity, gas, water, etc. Tenants are usually required to pay for whichever utilities are stated in the rental agreement. Should the tenant fail to pay them and gets said utilities disconnected in the rental unit, the landlord can evict them.
Landlords must give their tenants a written eviction notice of at least 5 days. However, if the tenant was able to pay all due amounts for utilities and service is restored within 3 days of receiving the eviction notice, they may stay on the property.
5. Refusing to cooperate with the landlord about repairing, inspecting, and showing the rental unit
Repairs, inspections, and shows of the unit are reasonable causes for a landlord to enter the tenant's rental unit.
Of course, they have to ask permission first, but if a tenant refuses to allow the landlord access for petty reasons, then the landlord can give the tenant a written Notice to Quit that gives them 10 days to move out of the property.
The notice informs the tenant that they have 10 days to move out or else an eviction suit will be filed against them.
6. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period
An Alaska eviction process does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
However, tenants can be evicted if they stay in the property even a day after their written lease ends (and have not arranged for a renewal).
This type of eviction notice usually only applies if the landlord wants to end the tenant's lease. The required notice time given to a tenant depends on their tenancy type. If the tenancy type is monthly, the landlord may issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
Should the tenant remain in the rental premises even after their notice period ends, the landlord may continue to file for eviction proceedings in order to evict the tenant from the property.
Filing a Complaint
After the notice period has passed, the landlord may file a complaint. Successful evictions rely on correct filings, so the landlord must file all the forms correctly.
1. Steps in filing
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- Fill out the forms
- Pay the filing costs
It takes between 24 hours to 30 days before a landlord can file a complaint. This depends on the notice given to the tenant.
Serving the Tenant
The Summons and Complaint must be served to the tenant. The landlord must not serve this document themselves. The document should contain information such as the date and time of the court trial.
Alaska allows a professional process server or a peace officer to serve the document. It has to be delivered at least 2 days before the eviction hearing is scheduled.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The summons and its corresponding documents have to be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and Complaint is served to the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable and personal service cannot be conducted, a copy of the Summons and Complaint may be left at the tenant's place of residence or rental unit with someone who lives with them.
- Mailing Service: The server mails the documents via certified or registered mail and requests a return receipt.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has the option to file for a continuance that lasts no longer than 2 days. However, if the eviction involves a monetary dispute such as money damages, the tenant must file an answer within 20 days that shows they disagree with the complaint.
The Summons and Complaint must be served at least 2 days before an eviction hearing is scheduled. In cases that involve monetary damages, the tenant has 20 days to file an answer to the court.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession
A landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against their tenant in order to win. Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord may win by default.
Either party may appeal the judgment within 30 days from the time Judgment for Possession was issued by the court.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
If the case involved unpaid finances or monetary damages, a separate damages hearing is held after the eviction hearing. Should the tenant fail to file an answer, the court may approve the landlord's monetary claim without needing a hearing.
During the court hearing, the landlord has to support their claim with evidence and show it to the judge. This includes, but is not limited, by the following:
- Copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations committed by the tenant
An eviction hearing is scheduled within 15 days after the landlord filed the complaint. Each party has 30 days to file an appeal for reconsideration once the judgment is passed.
An eviction hearing is scheduled within 15 days after the landlord filed the complaint. An appeal can be filed within 30 days after the judgment is passed.
1. After the landlord wins the case and gets a Writ of Assistance
Once the landlord wins the case and provided the tenant does not file for an appeal or reconsideration, the court will issue a Writ of Assistance upon the landlord's request.
The Judgment of Possession is another document that tells the tenant they have to move out by the deadline given by the court.
The Writ of Assistance is a court order which informs the tenant that they must move out of their housing on the property or else they will be forcibly evicted. If the tenant fails to do so, they will be forcibly evicted.
2. Move out process
This final step in the eviction process is to move the tenant out of their housing on the property. Alaska laws do not dictate how long a tenant has to move out of the rental property.
The court usually announces this information after Judgment for Possession is given to the landlord. Nevertheless, they have to pack up their things and leave.
The law outlines no specific timeline. The Writ of Assistance may be issued within a few hours to a few days, while the move-out period can take a few days to a few weeks.
Alaska Eviction Timeline
On average, it takes one month to two months for a complete eviction process.
1. Can I force a tenant to move out in Alaska?
In almost every state in the US, a landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of the rental unit. This is categorized as a “self-help” eviction process. The tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after the landlord has successfully won an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable. Alaska law has made it illegal for a landlord to personally remove the tenant from the rental unit.
2. What is a self-help eviction?
Examples of illegal “self-help” evictions include changing the locks, taking the tenant’s belongings, removing the front door, or turning off the heat or electricity. Many states specify how much money a tenant can sue for if the landlord has tried to illegally evict the tenant through some sort of self-help measure. Some state laws also provide for tenant's court costs and attorneys' fees (if the tenant successfully sues the landlord) and/or give the tenant the right to stay in the rental unit.
3. What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to Alaska Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
Can you kick someone out without eviction notices in Alaska?
No. A landlord can be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant. Consequences can include being sued for one and a half times worth of actual damages as well as attorneys' fees.
Can an eviction notice be stopped in Alaska?
Yes, but it depends on the reason for eviction. In cases involving nonpayment of rent, the entire eviction process stops if the tenant pays due rent in full. The same goes for tenants being evicted due to a lease violation.
How do I evict a squatter in Alaska?
Evicting a squatter is a whole other process. Check out articles that specialize in squatter eviction for more information.
What other laws should I be aware of in Alaska?
A landlord must be aware of an update regarding COVID-19 Eviction Policies. Due to COVID-19, there may be an eviction moratorium, or the government may be offering rent relief efforts to help tenants in eviction protection.
Landlords must also check out information about laws on Security Deposits so that they understand how it can help them in case a tenant is unable to pay for rent or repairs.
- BiggerPockets: Squatters: What's Legal, What's Not, & How to Get Rid of Them
- eForms: Alaska Eviction Notice Forms
- National Apartment Association: COVID-19 Information for Alaska
- National Evictions: Alaska Eviction Process
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- NOLO: Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in Alaska