The general steps in an Indiana eviction:
- The landlord tells the tenant the landlord wants the
tenant to move out.
- The landlord files a case against the tenant.
- The tenant receives notice of the lawsuit by certified
mail or by the Sheriff.
- The first hearing is to decide who has the right to
possession of the apartment. If the tenant is in violation
of the contract (for example, if the tenant is behind in
rent), the landlord will have the right to possession and
the court will order that the tenant be out by a certain
date. (This is usually within a few days of the court
hearing; you donít get much time to move). If the court
finds the tenant hasn't violated the lease, then the case is
over and the tenant does not have to move.
- There is often a second hearing for the court to decide
if the tenant owes the landlord any money. The tenant can
also tell the court if the tenant thinks the landlord owes
the tenant any money.
Does the Tenant need an attorney to represent them
in Court? An attorney might be able to help you
in court or help you negotiate an agreement with
your landlord. If you cannot afford to
hire an attorney,
you could apply for legal services at your local
legal services program.
If you donít have an attorney, you should still go to court
on your own. Most evictions are in small claims court. In
small claims court, people often do not have an attorney.
The judge will let you tell your side of the story.
What if I am behind in my rent? If you are behind
in your rent and the landlord files an eviction case in
court, you will be evicted. There is really no defense for
not paying the rent. So, if you lost your job and cannot pay
your rent, it is better to try to work out a payment plan
with the landlord before you go to court Ė and, like always,
put it in writing.
If you cannot work out anything with the landlord, you
should start thinking about where you will move. The courts
will generally give tenants only a few days to move out
after an eviction hearing.
I am behind in rent; should I just move out?
If you canít work a deal out with your landlord, you may want
to go ahead and move if you have someplace to go. If you
know you have violated your lease, you may want to avoid
going to court. (If you have an eviction on your record, it
might be harder for you to find a new place to rent). Maybe
your landlord will agree to let you stay a little longer if
you agree to move out by a certain date, and if you can pay
some rent money. Get any agreement with your landlord in
If you donít have any other place to go, you can just stay
in the home until you go to court and the court says you
What if I live in subsidized housing?
If you live in subsidized housing (where the government pays
part of your rent), you may have special rights and the
landlord might have special rules to follow.
You should definitely contact an attorney if your landlord
is threatening to evict you from subsidized housing. If you
are evicted from subsidized housing, you may not be able to
get into other subsidized housing.
What should I do when I move out of the housing?
Many times tenants lose their security deposits and even have
to pay more money after they move out because of damage done
to the apartment. When you move out, the landlord will
compare the condition of the apartment with its condition
when you moved in. If you have damaged the apartment, you
will have to pay for the costs of repairing those damages.
But there is a difference between normal use and ďdamage.Ē
For example, stains on the carpet is damage, but dirty
carpet on the traffic areas is normal use.
The landlord has 45 days to either return your security
deposit or send you a letter telling you what damages you
are being charged for. If the landlord does not do this, the
landlord cannot charge you for any damages. BUT, you must
tell the landlord in writing of your new address. You should
keep a copy of this letter.
When leaving the apartment, you should:
What else should I do to protect myself?
- Leave it clean
- Tell the landlord in writing of your new address and
keep a copy of the letter.
- Return all the keys.
- Do an inspection with the landlord.
- Take pictures or a video of the apartment so that you
can have it as proof of the condition when you left.
What if the court has told me to move, but I donít move?
If the court has ordered you to move out and you donít move
out, the court will send someone (such as the sheriff or
local constable) to the home to move your belongings out for
you. Your belongings will usually be put in storage, and
then you will need to pay for the moving and the storage.
- Save all documentation and letters you receive or write
about the apartment. Save copies of everything.
- Put in writing all ďside dealsĒ or agreements outside
the original contract.
- Know the terms of the lease.
- Attend all hearings to defend your rights.
If the court has told you to move, you should make every
effort to move out. You should make sure you have your
important belongings out of the home.
The court said I have to move, but I donít agree. What
can I do?
If the court has issued an order that says you have to move,
you donít have many options. You can appeal the trial
courtís decision to the next level of courts (which is
usually the Indiana Court of Appeals). Appealing to the
Indiana Court of Appeals is difficult and you should talk to
an attorney about this option.
In some counties (such as Marion County), you can appeal
the Small Claims Court decision to the countyís Superior
Court. This is not as difficult as appealing to the Indiana
Court of Appeals, but you should still talk to an attorney
There are strict time limits for filing an appeal. If you
think you might want to appeal a trial courtís decision, you
should contact an attorney right away.