Contact us whenever you need it!

+1 855 997 0206

Contact hours: Mon-Fri 8am - 10pm ET

LEGAL DICTIONARY

Writ of Possession

What Is a Writ of Possession?

A writ of possession is a legal document a court issues after a landlord is successful in an eviction lawsuit. It informs the tenant that they must leave the rental property by a specific time or otherwise face forcible removal by law officers.

State and local laws can vary regarding writs of possession. In some situations, they can be issued to homeowners when their property has been foreclosed.

When Is a Writ of Possession Issued?

Although non-payment of rent may be the most common reason for eviction, landlords can evict tenants for other lease agreement violations.

For example, the following violations may elicit an eviction:

  • Allowing people to live in the residence who are not on the lease agreement
  • Misuse or abuse of the property or illegal activity on the site
  • Having a pet in a rental unit which strictly prohibits pets

After the court rules in favor of the landlord in an eviction lawsuit (also called an unlawful detainer), an officer of the law serves the writ of possession to the tenant. By that time, the tenant will have already received one or more eviction notices and not responded to them.

What Happens After a Writ of Possession Is Served?

The amount of time a tenant has to move out after receiving a writ of possession can vary from state to state and sometimes city to city. However, the average deadline is 24 to 48 hours. If the tenant does not move out by then, a law enforcement official can forcibly remove the tenant and lock them out of the residence.

Some states have an appeal period for an eviction. In certain situations, a tenant may successfully appeal the writ due to an improper eviction process or evidence that the eviction is discriminatory or retaliatory.

In order to win an appeal, a tenant must be prepared to present scrupulous records to the court, including receipts, photos, witness statements, and copies of all correspondence between landlord and tenant.

An appeal can be time-consuming and expensive, and rent continues to accrue as long as the tenant remains in the rental residence.

If the issue is unpaid rent, a tenant may be able to stop the eviction by paying the landlord everything they owe, including court fees. If the landlord’s case is not about unpaid rent, then a tenant usually cannot stop the eviction by paying what they owe.

What Happens to a Tenant’s Belongings After the Writ Deadline?

In some states, if a tenant leaves any belongings in the unit at the time of eviction, the landlord must leave them in the rental unit for seven days (excluding Sundays and federal holidays). The tenant must communicate with the landlord about accessing the unit to retrieve their belongings within that timeframe.

After the seven days have passed, any property remaining in the unit will be considered abandoned. The landlord then can do whatever they choose with the abandoned property.

It is essential to check with your state and municipality laws since some areas do not offer a grace period for tenants to retrieve any property they leave behind.

Helpful Resources:

Realtor.com - What Is a Writ of Possession? A Guide for Tenants Facing Eviction

LawHelp.com - Judgments, Writs, and Stopping Evictions

The Balance - Get a Tenant to Move With a Writ of Possession

What Is a Writ of Possession?

A writ of possession is a legal document a court issues after a landlord is successful in an eviction lawsuit. It informs the tenant that they must leave the rental property by a specific time or otherwise face forcible removal by law officers.

State and local laws can vary regarding writs of possession. In some situations, they can be issued to homeowners when their property has been foreclosed.

When Is a Writ of Possession Issued?

Although non-payment of rent may be the most common reason for eviction, landlords can evict tenants for other lease agreement violations.

For example, the following violations may elicit an eviction:

  • Allowing people to live in the residence who are not on the lease agreement
  • Misuse or abuse of the property or illegal activity on the site
  • Having a pet in a rental unit which strictly prohibits pets

After the court rules in favor of the landlord in an eviction lawsuit (also called an unlawful detainer), an officer of the law serves the writ of possession to the tenant. By that time, the tenant will have already received one or more eviction notices and not responded to them.

What Happens After a Writ of Possession Is Served?

The amount of time a tenant has to move out after receiving a writ of possession can vary from state to state and sometimes city to city. However, the average deadline is 24 to 48 hours. If the tenant does not move out by then, a law enforcement official can forcibly remove the tenant and lock them out of the residence.

Some states have an appeal period for an eviction. In certain situations, a tenant may successfully appeal the writ due to an improper eviction process or evidence that the eviction is discriminatory or retaliatory.

In order to win an appeal, a tenant must be prepared to present scrupulous records to the court, including receipts, photos, witness statements, and copies of all correspondence between landlord and tenant.

An appeal can be time-consuming and expensive, and rent continues to accrue as long as the tenant remains in the rental residence.

If the issue is unpaid rent, a tenant may be able to stop the eviction by paying the landlord everything they owe, including court fees. If the landlord’s case is not about unpaid rent, then a tenant usually cannot stop the eviction by paying what they owe.

What Happens to a Tenant’s Belongings After the Writ Deadline?

In some states, if a tenant leaves any belongings in the unit at the time of eviction, the landlord must leave them in the rental unit for seven days (excluding Sundays and federal holidays). The tenant must communicate with the landlord about accessing the unit to retrieve their belongings within that timeframe.

After the seven days have passed, any property remaining in the unit will be considered abandoned. The landlord then can do whatever they choose with the abandoned property.

It is essential to check with your state and municipality laws since some areas do not offer a grace period for tenants to retrieve any property they leave behind.

Helpful Resources:

Realtor.com - What Is a Writ of Possession? A Guide for Tenants Facing Eviction

LawHelp.com - Judgments, Writs, and Stopping Evictions

The Balance - Get a Tenant to Move With a Writ of Possession