The eviction process in Indiana is based on stringent statewide eviction laws. Every landlord must adhere to the prescribed eviction process or risk getting frustrated by stubborn tenants.
First, the landlord issues an eviction notice. Its grace period varies depending on the reason for the eviction. If the tenant refuses to correct the situation or to quit the rental property at the end of the eviction period, the landlord must file an eviction case.
Due to the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship, the eviction process can be long-drawn and expensive. But there aren’t many things to worry about in a landlord-friendly state like Indiana. This article explains everything a landlord must do to evict a tenant legally. Keep reading.
Grounds for Eviction in Indiana
Indiana’s eviction laws require landlords to have a legal cause to evict tenants. The following are the main reasons why a landlord may decide to evict a tenant:
1. Failure to Pay Rent
Tenants must pay rent to use the rental property. If the tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord must issue an eviction notice requiring the tenant to pay or quit. In that case, it is usually a ten-day notice.
If the tenant pays the rent owed in 10 days, the eviction process ends. Otherwise, property managers or landlords can institute an eviction lawsuit. The status continues if the tenant is paying rent on time.
2. Violation of the Lease or Rental Agreement
Besides paying rent, the tenant must uphold other lease agreement provisions. The provisions may change based on the specific lease agreement.
Common Lease Violations in Indiana
According to the eviction laws in Indiana, the following are the most common lease violations:
- Damaging the rental property
- Smoking where you shouldn’t
- Keeps cats or dogs in pet-free properties
What Should the Landlord Do?
In case of any lease violation, the landlord must issue a written notice asking the tenant to rectify the situation or quit the rental property.
Usually, the tenant notice provides a grace period. If the tenant refuses to rectify the violation and remains on the premises, the landlord will initiate an eviction lawsuit.
Indiana law doesn’t specify how long the grace period should be. However, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable time to fix the lease violation.
3. Carrying Out Illegal Activity
A tenant who engages in illegal activity on the rental property could receive an eviction notice from the landlord. The following are the common illegal activities a tenant may engage in:
Selling or Abusing Drugs
Tenants dealing in illegal drugs can damage your property or cause legal problems for the landlord. Some of the damages might not be covered by landlord insurance. That’s why Indiana landlords of such tenants must evict them.
Some tenants could be involved in fraud. A landlord ignorant of that might fail in an eviction lawsuit. That’s why landlords must conduct thorough background checks by calling their previous landlords or neighbors.
Some tenants are harassing, threatening, and verbally abusive. Some may dump garbage in the wrong places, act violently, or vandalize the rental property. Any of these behaviors should result in nuisance-related evictions.
While some lease violations may lead to the termination of tenancy immediately, there could be a grace period in other cases. There would be a 45-day notice to vacate the rental unit in cases with a grace period.
4. Failure to Renew an Expired Lease
Indiana landlords cannot evict tenants with non-expired term leases. For example, if a lease lasts for six months or one year, the landlord can only evict a tenant after it expires. Even so, the landlord must issue an appropriate written notice.
The following are the types of notices issued when a tenant fails to renew a lease:
The Eviction Process in Indiana
The Indiana eviction process is straightforward. It starts with the landlord issuing a written notice for the tenant to remedy the situation or quit. If there’s no compliance, the landlord files an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
The following are the steps a landlord would typically take to execute the eviction process in Indiana:
1. Issuing a Tenant Notice
The first step is for the landlord to issue a written notice. According to Indiana law, the tenant must comply with the landlord’s instructions or quit the rental property within the notice period.
For example, if there was a violation of the rental agreement, the tenant must remedy the situation. If not, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit. That’s the next step in the Indiana eviction process. The following are some of the different types of notices that a landlord may issue:
10-Day Notice to Quit
If an Indiana tenant is late on paying rent, the landlord may issue a 10-day notice to pay or quit. The tenant has ten days to make rent payments or vacate the rental property.
30-Day Notice to Vacate
Indiana landlords can terminate the tenancy for a month-to-month renter using a 30-day notice to vacate. The tenant has 30 days to move out of the rental premises.
Notice to Comply or Vacate
A tenant might not fully honor the lease agreement. In that case, the landlord must issue a notice to comply or vacate. The timeline for this notice isn’t specified, but it allows the tenant reasonable time to rectify the issue.
45-Day Notice to Vacate
Eviction laws in Indiana allow a 45-day notice to vacate for tenants who commit lease violations. Thus, the tenant has 45 days to move out of the rental property. Unlike when a tenant owes rent, they have no chance to fix the issues.
2. Filing an Eviction Lawsuit
If the tenant does not comply with the eviction notice, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit in a court of law.
Where the dispute concerns unpaid rent, the landlord should file a lawsuit in the small claims court as soon as the notice period expires. In that case, the court may compel the tenant to start making rent payments.
The landlord will pay filing fees, which vary from one court to another. If the landlord seeks legal assistance, they also must pay a lawyer.
3. Serving the Tenant
As part of the eviction process, the landlord must serve the tenant with court papers. If not, the eviction hearing cannot commence.
Only the sheriff or another law enforcement officer serves the tenant. It may take some time before the tenant is served based on the reasons for the complaint.
The landlord or their lawyers cannot serve the tenant with the documents. Here are the common methods of serving a tenant in Indiana:
A court official hands the summons and complaint to a tenant in person. That means they must locate the tenant wherever they might be.
A server sends the documents via certified mail to the tenant’s residence or place of work. However, proving that the tenant received the summons can be difficult.
Indiana’s eviction laws allow an officer of the court to leave a copy of the documents at the entrance of the tenant’s residence. Additionally, the server must send a copy via first-class mail.
Once served, tenants facing eviction have three to 20 days to prepare for the hearing. They must assemble evidence to counter the landlord’s claims during the eviction hearing.
4. The Eviction Hearing
Once the landlord files an eviction lawsuit, the court will set a date for the court hearing. A typical eviction hearing involves the landlord arguing their case on the basis of solid evidence. The landlord gets a default judgment when the tenant refuses to testify.
After all, eviction laws in Indiana do not mandate the tenant to appear before the court. If the tenant appears, then the landlord may present evidence such as the following:
- Bank statements
- Copy of deed
- Copy of rental or lease agreement
- Witnesses of lease violations
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Photo and video evidence of lease violations
If the landlord obtains a favorable court order, they must give the tenant up to 72 hours to vacate the rental property. Otherwise, a law enforcement officer will enforce the eviction.
5. Removing the Tenant from the Rental Premises
A favorable court order means the landlord can eject the tenant from the premises. The landlord must hand the judgment to a sheriff to carry out the orders. Indiana eviction procedures do not allow self-help eviction.
Sometimes, the tenant could leave behind their personal property. In that case, the landlord cannot remove the tenant’s property without a court order. The property would then be moved to a warehouse or storage unit.
A legal storage unit will keep the tenant belongings for 90 days. If the tenant doesn’t claim the property before then, the warehouse owner will sell it.
Do Landlords Need Insurance?
The landlord-tenant relationship is often fraught with acrimony and conflict. Besides rent non-payment, many other reasons could push the landlord to initiate eviction proceedings. In the end, landlords win eviction lawsuits. But that doesn’t mean they always have a smooth experience.
As a landlord, your property is exposed to many risks, including damage from water, fire, lightning, hail, and windstorms. Additionally, a landlord could get sued for damages when a tenant or visitor to the rental unit gets injured.
That’s where the landlord insurance comes in. It provides protection when a landlord suffers losses due to any of the perils listed above. Landlords are also covered from liability for injuries affecting tenants and their guests.
Steadily.com offers top-notch landlord insurance services, right from the quote to compensation. Although based in Austin, Texas, our services are available to clients across the United States. Contact us now for an affordable landlord insurance quotation.