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LEGAL DICTIONARY

Forcible Entry and Detainer

What Is a Forcible Entry and Detainer?

A Forcible Entry and Detainer, or FED, is an action a property owner or a landlord can take when an existing occupant refuses to leave after being given appropriate notice. The laws governing FEDs vary from state to state and are different for residential and non-residential properties.

If a tenant refuses to leave a property within the typical five to seven days after receiving an appropriate eviction notice, the landlord or property owner may file an FED. The court will then hold a hearing to determine if the occupant has the right to possession.

If the court finds that the occupant does not have this right, the court will uphold the landlord or owner’s right to regain possession of the property.

When Is Forcible Entry and Detainer Used?

This type of legal action can move quickly through the court system. Also called unlawful detainer cases, FEDs typically are used in one of the following scenarios:

  • The tenant does not move out after the lease agreement ends.
  • The tenant does not pay rent.
  • The landlord terminates the lease for another violation.

What Are the Steps to Filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer?

Before initiating an FED, a landlord must closely follow local eviction laws. For example, a landlord cannot evict a tenant without giving them the proper written eviction notice. If the tenant does not move out after the appropriate time stated in the eviction notice, then the landlord may proceed with filing an FED.

The theory behind an FED is that the landlord or owner alleges the tenant has unlawful use and possession of the property. Therefore, the landlord/owner seeks the assistance of the court in removing the tenant from the property.

In most jurisdictions, a judge makes the decision to rule in favor of the landlord/owner or the tenant after hearing the evidence in a court hearing. However, in some municipalities, a tenant is entitled to a jury trial if they ask for one. In these cases, a jury, rather than a judge, hears testimony and makes the decision of whether or not a tenant should be evicted.

If the tenant does not attend a scheduled court hearing, the landlord will win the case. If the tenant does attend, the court will take into account any defenses the tenant may provide.

What defenses are there for an FED?

A tenant who feels the eviction process is unlawful must provide evidence to support their case. It may be wise for the tenant to have legal representation in the matter.

A common defense is that the landlord did not give proper notice for the eviction or that the landlord is not following the terms of the lease agreement. Evidence for both parties could include copies of the signed lease agreement, copies of correspondence between landlord and tenant, photos, and testimony from other tenants.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, it may grant the landlord a monetary judgment for the rent money in question and related attorney fees and court expenses.

Next, the court may grant a writ for possession of the premises. Typically issued within a few days after the court decision, the writ gives the tenant the opportunity to move out voluntarily. The landlord must wait this period of an additional few days for the tenant to move out.

If the tenant still refuses to leave, then law enforcement officials will forcibly remove the tenant. It is unlawful for a landlord or property owner to remove a tenant forcibly.

Helpful Resources:

Iowa Judicial Branch - What is Forcible Entry and Detainer or FED?

TexasEviction.com - What is Forcible Entry and Detainer

Cornell Law - Unlawful Detainer

Oregon Judicial Department - Residential Eviction

What Is a Forcible Entry and Detainer?

A Forcible Entry and Detainer, or FED, is an action a property owner or a landlord can take when an existing occupant refuses to leave after being given appropriate notice. The laws governing FEDs vary from state to state and are different for residential and non-residential properties.

If a tenant refuses to leave a property within the typical five to seven days after receiving an appropriate eviction notice, the landlord or property owner may file an FED. The court will then hold a hearing to determine if the occupant has the right to possession.

If the court finds that the occupant does not have this right, the court will uphold the landlord or owner’s right to regain possession of the property.

When Is Forcible Entry and Detainer Used?

This type of legal action can move quickly through the court system. Also called unlawful detainer cases, FEDs typically are used in one of the following scenarios:

  • The tenant does not move out after the lease agreement ends.
  • The tenant does not pay rent.
  • The landlord terminates the lease for another violation.

What Are the Steps to Filing a Forcible Entry and Detainer?

Before initiating an FED, a landlord must closely follow local eviction laws. For example, a landlord cannot evict a tenant without giving them the proper written eviction notice. If the tenant does not move out after the appropriate time stated in the eviction notice, then the landlord may proceed with filing an FED.

The theory behind an FED is that the landlord or owner alleges the tenant has unlawful use and possession of the property. Therefore, the landlord/owner seeks the assistance of the court in removing the tenant from the property.

In most jurisdictions, a judge makes the decision to rule in favor of the landlord/owner or the tenant after hearing the evidence in a court hearing. However, in some municipalities, a tenant is entitled to a jury trial if they ask for one. In these cases, a jury, rather than a judge, hears testimony and makes the decision of whether or not a tenant should be evicted.

If the tenant does not attend a scheduled court hearing, the landlord will win the case. If the tenant does attend, the court will take into account any defenses the tenant may provide.

What defenses are there for an FED?

A tenant who feels the eviction process is unlawful must provide evidence to support their case. It may be wise for the tenant to have legal representation in the matter.

A common defense is that the landlord did not give proper notice for the eviction or that the landlord is not following the terms of the lease agreement. Evidence for both parties could include copies of the signed lease agreement, copies of correspondence between landlord and tenant, photos, and testimony from other tenants.

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, it may grant the landlord a monetary judgment for the rent money in question and related attorney fees and court expenses.

Next, the court may grant a writ for possession of the premises. Typically issued within a few days after the court decision, the writ gives the tenant the opportunity to move out voluntarily. The landlord must wait this period of an additional few days for the tenant to move out.

If the tenant still refuses to leave, then law enforcement officials will forcibly remove the tenant. It is unlawful for a landlord or property owner to remove a tenant forcibly.

Helpful Resources:

Iowa Judicial Branch - What is Forcible Entry and Detainer or FED?

TexasEviction.com - What is Forcible Entry and Detainer

Cornell Law - Unlawful Detainer

Oregon Judicial Department - Residential Eviction