Eviction laws vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
- Send a clear written notice
- Fill out the forms
- Serve the tenant
- Attend the trial
- Wait for judgment
Evictions can differ from one another and are dependent on the lease agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord in real estate. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that could be exploited by the tenant. Good conduct must be observed.
This article details a summary for a landlord to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your justice court to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
Step 1 in every eviction process is giving the tenant an appropriate notice. The reason for the eviction must always be valid, and the notice must provide this reason.
Paying rent on time is one of the most important things a tenant has to remember. The lease helps a lot when it comes to determining how a landlord must act.
1. Nonpayment of Rent
Nonpayment of rent is a common reason for eviction. Rent in North Dakota is usually considered late three days past its due. These 3 days are the grace period given to the tenants.
Tenants can’t be served an eviction notice until the rent is three days late.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they are required to give the tenant an official written eviction notice called a 3-Day Notice to Pay. Providing eviction notices is crucial to the eviction process, especially for nonpayment.
If rent is paid within those three days, then the filing for eviction does not continue.
The landlord may charge a late fee, but they must provide at least a three-day grace period. This late fee provision has to be stated in the written lease provisions or rental agreement.
Renters should pay the rent on time to avoid getting evicted.
2. Violation of the Lease Agreement
The rental agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay. The lease the landlord and the tenant agreed upon should not be disregarded. It can decide the outcome of an eviction action.
Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant. Violating an agreement causes problems for both landlord and the tenant.
If a tenant breaches a term from the written lease agreement, the landlord must issue an eviction notice called a 3-Day Notice to Quit to move out from the rental unit.
A landlord is not legally obligated to allow the tenants to resolve the issue/problem before presenting them with the Notice to Quit.
Lease violations may include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Several unauthorized people living in the rental unit
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
Illegal activity is part of the lease violation. If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the rental unit, the landlord has to provide an official written 3-Day Notice to Vacate/Quit.
Illegal behavior includes, but is not limited to:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Possession and/or firing of an illegal firearm
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
If the tenant remains in the rental unit, then the landlord may continue with the eviction action.
The landlord is advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior or actions don’t go unnoticed.
3. Non-Renewal of the Lease after the Rental Term Ends
According to North Dakota eviction law, the landlord must not evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not breach any rules, they can stay until their lease period ends.
Often, the landlord may not want to renew the tenant’s lease. The landlord is required to provide a written eviction notice called a Notice to Move before their lease ends.
The notice to receive may vary depending on the type of tenancy:
If the tenant stays on the property even a day after their rental agreement ends, the landlord may continue with the eviction process. To pay the rent is still a requirement.
4. Sale of Property
The landlord must give 3 days' written notice before evicting the tenant. This is applied when the rental property is being sold, and the new owner does not want to continue renting out the rental unit.
If the tenant fails to leave the property even a day after their lease ends, they may continue with the eviction process.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The North Dakota eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written eviction notice. Enough time for the rent notice 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 the case information statement
- Pay the fees
It takes about 3 to 30 days from the issuance of the Notice to Vacate/Quit.
This depends on the reason for eviction, which is usually found in the rental agreement.
Notice to Comply
Before filing for an eviction with the court, you need to issue the tenant a notice to comply. You can either download the free PDF or Word template, or create your North Dakota eviction notice from here using a step-by-step wizard that guides you through the entire process to make sure you are submitting the legally correct notice.
Keep in mind, the step-by-step wizard will ask you to pay a small fee at the end - it's a small price to pay to ensure legal compliance and protection. The last thing you want is to go to court only to find out you did the first process incorrect.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
An official from the district court, such as the sheriff or someone uninvolved with the case who is over the age of 18, delivers the Summons for the hearing and the Complaint to the tenant. Only they have the right to do so.
They must select one of these methods:
- Personal Service: The court official or the representative delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Mailing: The court official or the representative mails the Summons and Complaint to the tenant’s recent known address.
- Posting: The court official or the representative leaves a copy of the Summons and Complaint. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property. This is the recommended service when all methods fail.
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 3-15 days before the eviction hearing to prepare.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 3-7 days before the hearing is scheduled.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession
The landlord must provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. If the tenant fails to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
If the landlord does not win, they can still appeal within 5 days post-judgment for reconsideration.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of North Dakota, 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. Any information provided by the landlord's evidence is crucial to the outcome of 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.
If the landlord wins the case, a Writ of Execution will be issued, and the eviction process will continue.
The eviction hearing is scheduled 3 to 15 days after the complaint was filed.
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 of the judgment being passed in favor of the landlord.
The Writ of Execution may even be issued on the same day as the hearing.
The Writ of Execution gives the tenant until after the expiration of the move-out date to remove themselves from the premises.
2. Move out process
Once judgment is passed in favor of the landlord, the tenant must move out depending on the date the judicial officer has selected.
The sheriff executes the Writ. Once the Writ is given to the tenant and/or pasted on the entrance to the tenant’s rental unit, the tenant has to move out.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are 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.
If the tenant or a family member living with the tenant has a hard time moving out immediately or has other valid reasons, then the tenant may ask for a 5 day stay of execution. This is guaranteed only if the judicial officer grants the request.
The state of North Dakota does not specify what to do with a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact them and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them. After the timeframe has passed, their property may be sold or disposed of.
Some bit of legal advice: any money earned by the landlord for their belongings can be used to cover unpaid rent and any other outstanding costs.
The tenant must have at least a few hours or days to vacate the property, depending on the posting of the Writ of Execution. The judicial officer decides on the moving-out date. The tenant may have an additional 5 days if the stay of execution is granted.
North Dakota Eviction Process 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 1 month to 2 months for a complete North Dakota 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 very accurate 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 can get very difficult to search through, can take 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 else that can possibly be useful in a court case. 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 can serve to show that the tenant was aware of the terms before committing the violation.
- 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, letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it can be useful to show that the tenant was aware of the eviction process the whole time. 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. It may be acceptable if not every term is specifically listed in the 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 North Dakota?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper processes.
To evict a tenant, landlords must have valid evidence and notice or service.
In the state of North Dakota, a tenant has the right to sue their landlord for triple the damages.
Which methods of eviction are considered illegal?
Self-help evictions are illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s services, such as electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
Other illegal eviction methods include:
- To evict a tenant as a form of reprisal
- Removing the tenant’s belongings yourself
A landlord must give all rent necessities to their tenant without discrimination.
Can a tenant be evicted in the winter in North Dakota?
Yes. Eviction can happen during winter if tenants failed to pay, violated a lease term, or did illegal activities. However due to COVID 19, one must attempt to understand the problems each person may face.
Can tenants rent if they have been evicted?
It depends on the landlord. Some landlords will no longer rent to tenants who had been evicted before.
What other laws should I be aware of?
It is also wise for landlords and real estate investors to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord from tenants who commit a lease violation or fail to pay rent.
It is also recommended that landlord conduct their own research when it comes to looking for information regarding an eviction process. Browsing freely of your own will for informational purposes will help you win an eviction trial.