Indiana eviction laws vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that the tenant could exploit.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Failure to comply with rent deadlines
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they are required to give the tenant an official written 10-Day Notice to Pay.
If rent is paid within those 10 days, then the filing for eviction does not continue. If they are unable to pay, the landlord reserves the right to continue filing for eviction.
Some leases/rental agreements may not require a notice period or dictate a different number of days for a notice period. Confirm with the written agreement to be sure.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental lease agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms of the lease agreement, the landlord must issue a written notice. The law does not dictate the length of time a landlord can give a tenant.
It does, however, say that the notice period the tenants are given must be “reasonable.” If the tenant resolves these issues on time, the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental property
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the violations are not resolved, or they remain on the property, then the landlord may continue with the eviction.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the notice the landlord gives depends on the type of illegal activity:
Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed. If needed, a 45-Day Notice to Vacate must be issued.
4. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Indiana, landlords cannot evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. Enough notice time must have been allowed before filing for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
In Indiana, filing fees vary from court to court.
It takes about 10 to 90 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
An official from the court delivers the summons for the hearing and the complaint to the tenant. The county sheriff is usually assigned this task, but they are not required.
The length of time required for the documents to be served depends on which court the complaint was filed in and the type of eviction:
There are several methods available to serve the documents:
- Personal Service: The court official delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Mailing: The server mails the documents via certified mail to the tenant’s place of work or residence
- Posting: The court official leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property. When using this method, the server also has to use first class mail to mail a copy to the tenant
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant in this part of the eviction process.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 3-20 days to prepare for the hearing. A reply is not necessary.
The documents should be served to the tenant between 5-20 days before the hearing.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Indiana, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing.
The landlord needs to support the claim with evidence and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
The scheduling of an eviction hearing depends on the type of eviction and which court it will be held in:
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Execution is issued within a few hours to a few days.
The Writ of Execution gives the tenant a maximum of 48-72 hours to vacate the property.
If the eviction process is related to drugs, they receive 72 hours to leave. For other evictions, they will only get 48 hours.
2. Move out process
Once judgment is passed in favor of the landlord, the tenant has to move out. Only the sheriff is allowed to remove the tenant by force.
Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
In the state of Indiana, landlords have to get a court order before disposing of or moving any belongings left behind by the tenant. They can place them in a storage unit or warehouse.
Then, they must inform the tenant to retrieve their belongings within 90 days and pay for the cost of storage. After the timeframe has passed, whoever is in charge of the warehouse or storage unit can sell it.
The tenants have 48 hours to 72 hours upon judgment being passed in favor of the landlord to vacate the property.
Indiana Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
On average, it would take anywhere between 2 weeks to 4 months for a complete eviction process.
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 is vital to creating a solid case and can be a clear indicator of whether or not you win the case.
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 most effective when you can scan every document pertaining to the agreement.
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.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Indiana?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of Indiana, tenants can sue their landlord, but the statute doesn’t have a specific amount.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Indiana?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Indiana?
According to Indiana 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 laws should I know of in Indiana?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Indiana. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.