How to fill out the Kentucky Forcible Detainer (Eviction) Form

So, you’ve finally reached the end of your rope with a tenant, and are ready to file to have them evicted. It’s no fun, but it doesn’t have to be a big burden. For details on what happens before you file, see our on article on evictions, but to summarize, make sure you have posted proper notice on the door on the rental unit before you file (or have used certified or registered mail, but there are problems using them that make the door your best solution). Kentucky law allows you to make the notice period as short as seven days if you write that into the lease. If you’ve not written anything into the lease, then the law generally defaults to 30 days notice period (yikes!), unless the rental period is less than 30 days (for example rent is paid every two weeks), then the notice period is generally the same as the rental payment period. Having posted proper notice, and the amount of notice time having passed, you are ready to fill out the forcible detainer complaint and head to court.

Fortunately, the Kentucky Court of Justice has made things easy, by providing an online form at:
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcourts.ky.gov%2Fresources%2Flegalforms%2FLegalForms%2F216.pdf

It is a .pdf form, so you’ll need software which can read that common format (Google Drive and many other browser plug-ins can do so, in addition to Adobe Reader). This is a fill-in-the-blank form which you print from the online form once you are done.

At the top of the form are three blanks to fill in:

Case Number – you’ll not usually know the case number; just leave it blank and the clerk will fill it in.
Court – normally this is District, but if you are unsure, again just leave blank and the clerk will fill in.
County – this is a pull-down with all 120 Kentucky counties to select from. Normally there is no confusion on what county to file in, it will be the county the property is in. If you don’t live near that county, it may be possible to write an agreement into the lease that legal matters will be handled in the court where you are, or some other particular jurisdiction. However, the tenant can argue improper venue or lack of jurisdiction and the court may agree that it should be heard by the court where the property is.

Next you enter the owner’s name and address; be careful if you’ve placed the property in an LLC or similar arm’s-length device. If so, the LLC, etc. is the owner, not you personally.

Then you enter the tenant name and address; this will almost always be the rental unit unless there are very unusual circumstances. This is the address the Sheriff will post court notice at, so you normally want it posted on the property in question. One important tactic is to only list one tenant name, and then “et al” (and others) if you want to save serving costs. Most counties have raised the cost to serve to $40-$50. If there are two tenants and you list both names, that’s two serving costs. However, since this is a suit in rem (against the property, to determine possession), “et al” should suffice. So, instead of filing the forcible detainer suit and naming “Joe and Jane Smith”, you could name “Joe Smith et al”. The “et al” also helps cover you in case your tenants have moved people into the unit you are unaware of.

Section 1 then is to fill in the date of the lease and the address. It could be a little confusing where it says “contracted to lease _________”; does that mean “a house” or “a duplex”? No, it’s just asking for the street address. So, section 1 will read something like “On the 15th day of January, 2012 , Defendant(s) contracted to lease 101 Main St. located at Nicholasville, KY 40356” where the underlined sections are what you fill in. Then at the end of the section you have two boxes to choose from whether the lease was written or oral. I hope no one reading this ever has to check “oral”. You are potentially hurting already. Unless you’ve kept copies of previous payment checks from the tenant, how do you prove what the rent is? You’re also likely looking at a 30-day notice period rather than 7 days. If you had a written lease which has ended and the tenant has remained, that is still a written lease, it just renews with the payment period (often called month-to-month since that’s usually how rent is paid).

Sections 2 and 3 are rather straightforward, and go together, asking for how much the rent is, then with check boxes to say whether the rent is weekly, monthly or yearly, and next starting in section 3 a blank space and check boxes to put what pay period(s) have not been paid. Finally there is a blank space and check boxes to say what late fees have accumulated.

Section 4 covers breaches other than non-payment of rent. While paying rent is the by far the most common reason for an eviction, this would be the place to claim a tenant was violating a no pets clause or other section of the lease. It’s just a big blank space where you can briefly describe the offense. It needs to be a material breach of the lease, and you still have to post the notice on their door to cure the breach, same as with not paying the rent, before filing a forcible detainer. Normally this section is blank since rent is the problem, but this section can be filled out on its own, leaving section 3 blank, or you can fill in both. Maybe you went over to post notice for non-payment of rent and also found they had a dog they weren’t supposed to – you can include the dog here. Note that if you are in a city/county which has adopted the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, non-monetary breaches require a 14-day notice minimum. The URLTA is a whole other subject, but you need to be aware if your property is covered or not (it is law which can be adopted by local governments if they wish, but is not state wide. Lexington and Louisville are among areas which have adopted URLTA, most of the state has not).

Section 5 is where you state what date you gave notice (posted on the door) to the tenants. Telling the tenants orally they have breached won’t work. Neither will mailing them a note or emailing them. Notice needs to be posted on the door of the property. It’s a good idea to take a time-stamped photo when the notice is posted. If you haven’t yet posted notice and now realize you are going to have to do that and wait longer, don’t be tempted to lie. This form is a sworn statement, after all.

Finally you will sign and give a phone number at the bottom. Notice that under the signature it says landlord/attorney. It bears repeating that if you’ve placed the property in an LLC, trust, corporation or other arm’s length entity (generally a living trust is not considered arm’s length, but you might want to consult an attorney if you’ve used a living trust or aren’t sure what type of trust you have), then the LLC, trust or whatever is the landlord, not you. Legally these entities are considered separate “persons”, but unlike real people they can’t sign a legal complaint on their own behalf. An attorney has to do that for them. This doesn’t mean the attorney actually has to show up in court, or do much other than sign the complaint, because you can prepare a letter from the LLC, trust, etc. declaring you its “personal representative”. You can be a personal representative, showing up with the lease, records, photos, etc. to show the judge, rather than have the attorney do it, but signing the complaint when you aren’t an attorney in these cases is, at least in theory, practicing law without a license. Now, with 120 counties it’s possible you may find a court here or there which will look the other way on this issue; my own county did such until a few years ago. However, it probably just takes one tenant or their attorney to point this out and the court would be forced to change. You could always ask the court clerks what the practice is in your court. Otherwise, make friends with an attorney! Or at least find one who won’t charge much just to sign the complaints.

When you file you will have to pay the court and serving costs, and the clerk will let you know when the court date is. Typically it’s the same time each week, and there will be a cut-off about a week ahead. In other words, if court is Tuesday, you can’t file on Monday the day before for that court day. Service will be quick, usually within a few hours or the next day, so you might be hearing something (begging, arguing, etc.) from the tenant shortly.

Very often the tenant wants to offer you a partial payment. Just be aware that without a proper waiver clause in the written lease, the tenant can argue that once you accepted the partial payment, the notice process had to start over again.

The box at the bottom of the form you don’t fill out, that is for the person notarizing your signature. You do not have to take the form to a notary; the court clerks, under their clerk’s oath, can verify your signature here, and on other sworn court documents, so they can take care of that when you file. After a while you might get comfortable enough with the procedures in your clerk’s office to simply mail the form in (the first few times though, you really want to do it in person so if there are any questions the clerk can walk you through them), and in that case you’ll need a notary.

Hopefully just getting the visit from the Sheriff (or Constable, in Kentucky they can serve these type papers as well) and having them post the notice will be enough to get your tenant to pay up or at least vacate. If not, my next project will be to write on what it’s like in court, and what you need to do to prepare for it.

About the author: Don Shelton is a Kentucky real estate broker with over 20 years of experience in property management.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.

Category: Eviction, Property Management

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