Evictions or Unlawful Detainers
An Unlawful Detainer is the legal name for an eviction. Landlords must follow a series of steps in order to legally evict a tenant. This is true whether the lease or rental agreement is in writing or was a verbal agreement.
First, the landlord gives the tenant written notice. If the notice allows the tenant to correct the problem, such as to pay the back rent or to remove a pet, the landlord can only evict if the tenant does not do what the notice asks. If the notice is not correctable, such as a 30- or 60-day notice to move out in a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer case in court when the notice period ends.
If the landlord has followed all the proper procedures, and the tenant either does not answer the court papers, or the tenant answers, but the court decides in favor of the landlord, the court will order the sheriff to evict the tenant. If the court decides for the tenant, the tenant will get to stay.
It is against the law for landlords to evict tenants on their own, without going to court AND getting a court order directing the tenant to move out. Even if the tenant is months behind on the rent, without a court order the landlord cannot:
Physically remove the tenant;
Get rid of the tenant's personal property;
Lock the tenant out;
Cut off the utilities, like water or electricity;
Remove outside windows or doors; or
Change the locks.
The amount of time it takes for a tenant to be out depends on the specifics of the case.