A Forcible Entry or Unlawful Detainer Suit is the legal term for the Complaint a landlord files against a tenant. These vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
Once a landlord wins the case, they can ask for a court order called a Writ of Possession that will order a tenant to move out of the rental unit. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without one being issued to them.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Alternatively, a landlord can also ask for legal advice from an attorney for more information on the rules for eviction.
The best legal advice will come from an attorney who is well-versed in Idaho legal law.
The first step all evictions must take is providing a notice called a Notice to Quit. There are only some states which do not require a Notice to Quit, and even then, it depends on the reason for eviction.
The notice must provide the reason for eviction and how long a tenant has to pay, comply, or leave before the process begins. A landlord cannot evict any tenants without this notice.
1. Failing to pay rent/Nonpayment of rent
The most common reason for eviction is the nonpayment of rent. A landlord can evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent.
Late rent payment in Idaho is a day past its due.
Before starting the eviction process, a landlord must give the tenant a written 3-Day Notice to Pay once the rent is past due. This gives the tenant 3 days to pay rent or leave the rental unit.
If the landlord wants to offer a second chance, they may do so. They can also provide a stipulation in the lease that offers a grace period.
If a tenant wants to avoid getting evicted, they have to pay rent due. Payment of rent in full stops the eviction process.
Failure to pay rent in full means the tenant must vacate the rental unit.
Should they remain past the notice period of 3 days and refuse to move out, the landlord may continue filing to evict the tenant.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A lease agreement can vary from tenant to tenant. It contains all information on the responsibilities of each party during the entire duration of the tenant's stay.
A tenant may face eviction for violating the terms of the lease. Both tenant and landlord must uphold the lease/rental agreement at all times.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord must give a written notice called a 3-Day Notice to Comply. This notice informs the tenant that they have 3 days to either fix their violation or vacate the property.
Lease violations in an Idaho eviction include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Subleasing the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Housing a pet in a pet-free rental unit, etc.
A landlord can begin the eviction lawsuit to evict a tenant who cannot fix their violation or vacate the property after their notice period.
3. Conducting illegal drug activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal activity, the landlord is required to give them a written 3-Day Notice to Comply before proceeding with a Forcible Entry or Unlawful Detainer suit.
Illegal drug activity includes the involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance.
4. Committing health and safety violations
A landlord can evict a tenant for threatening the sanitation of the entire rental property by creating waste. A landlord has to give the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
The landlord may start filing for eviction if the tenant fails to vacate the rental unit after 3 days.
5. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period
An Idaho eviction process does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause. However, if the tenant becomes a "holdover" tenant, the eviction process may begin after the notice period.
A holdover tenant is someone who overstays their lease term without applying for a renewal. This type of notice usually only applies if the landlord wants to end the tenant's lease.
Tenants under a month-to-month lease have to ensure they renew their lease to avoid eviction. A landlord must give the tenant a written notice called a 30-Day Notice to Quit if they do not wish for the tenant's lease to be renewed.
It does not matter whether a tenant is on a month-to-month lease or a week-to-week lease. They all receive the same type of notice.
A landlord may start filing for eviction for tenants who remain on the rental property after the end date indicated in their notice period.
Filing a Complaint
The next step to a state of Idaho eviction process is filing a legal complaint in the correct district court. Successful evictions rely on accurate filings, so the landlord must file them correctly.
1. Steps in filing
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- Fill out the forms to file the complaint - be sure you know your district's zip code for ease in filling out the forms
- Pay the fees
It takes about 3-30 days from when the eviction notice was given to the tenant before a complaint may be filed.
This part of the process can take as long as 1 month.
Serving the Tenant
The next step in an eviction process is serving the Summons and Complaint to the tenant. In most cases, the landlord cannot serve the documents by themselves.
Idaho state allows individuals over the age of 18 who are uninvolved in the case to serve the documents.
The date and time of the court trial must be found in the Summons.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The documents must be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and its supporting documents are served on the tenant in person
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, a copy of the Summons may be left with someone residing with the tenant who is over the age of 18
- Publishing & Mailing: The Summons and Complaint are published in the local paper, and a copy is mailed to the tenant.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
In Idaho, tenants need to file an answer with the court to appear at the court trial within 21 days after receiving the Summons. They must explain why they disagree with the landlord's case against them.
If the tenant fails to file a written answer, it may result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord.
This does not apply to eviction proceedings involving squatters, non-payment of rent, and illegal drug activity.
There is no specific length of time for a tenant to receive the Summons and its corresponding documents.
However, if the eviction was about non-payment of rent or illegal drug activity, the documents have to be served at least 5 days before the hearing date.
Eviction proceedings meant to evict a squatter require the documents to be delivered at least 24 hours before the hearing date.
A formal answer is required from the tenant within 21 days after they receive the Summons.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
To win and accomplish this step, landlords must provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against their tenants. Should the tenants fail to show up to the hearing on time, the landlords may win by default.
However, a tenant can send an attorney in their place to defend them during the hearing. The attorney has to be licensed to work in Idaho.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
Along with the tenant, the landlord has to support their claim with evidence and show it to the judge on the date of the trial. This includes, but is not limited to, 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
Alternatively, either party may ask for the legal services of an attorney who is well-versed in information about Idaho legal law to assist in the hearing.
Evictions about nonpayment of rent and illegal drug activity are held within 12 days.
An eviction hearing about evicting squatters from the property is held within 72 hours.
For either hearing, the defendants can ask for a 2-day continuance or postponement.
Eviction hearings about other kinds of reasons can only begin after the 21-day period a tenant has to file a written answer. It can even be scheduled for longer than 1 month.
1. After the landlord wins the case and gets a Writ of Restitution
The court will issue a Writ of Restitution a few hours to 5 days after the landlord wins the case. This court order informs the tenant that they have to get out of their housing on the property or else they will be forcibly removed.
The Writ of Restitution is not given automatically. The landlord must request the court judge for it to be issued.
2. Move out process from the rental unit
This final step in the eviction process is to move the tenant out of their housing. Idaho laws dictate that the tenants have to move out immediately once the Writ of Restitution is given to law enforcement officials.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to remove the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they cannot engage in a self-help eviction.
If any belongings are left behind, the sheriff's office will move the belongings out of the unit and handle future correspondence with the tenant.
Tenant shave to vacate the property immediately once the Writ of Restitution is given to the law enforcement officials. No extra time shall be provided.
This does not apply to evictions about nonpayment of rent. In this case, the tenant has 5 days before the Writ is issued.
Idaho Eviction Timeline
On average, it takes about 1 week to 2 months for a complete eviction process in Idaho.
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. For the future, however, it could be beneficial to include these terms in future agreements.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Idaho?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
It is against Idaho law to not provide a tenant with the appropriate written notice before proceeding with an eviction lawsuit. Landlords are advised to use the correct forms when handing in an eviction notice along with the reason for eviction.
In the state of Idaho, tenants can sue their landlords for three times the actual amount for damages. This is an added consequence of forcing the tenant to move out.
What is a self-help eviction in Idaho?
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.
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Idaho?
According to Idaho 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.
What other laws should I be aware of in Idaho?
A landlord must be aware of any information regarding the COVID-19 Eviction Policies because there have been some statewide changes on the rules for eviction to help those who are struggling during the pandemic.
Landlords need to check out relevant information about laws on Security Deposits. One needs to learn how these deposits can protect the landlord when there is unpaid rent or repairs.
Landlords also need to read information about Landlord-Tenant laws in Idaho, which is often called the Landlord-Tenant Act, so that they are aware of the rules and regulations in the state when it comes to evictions.
Knowing at least a little information on these laws will help a landlord win an eviction lawsuit the legal way.