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How to Evict a Tenant in Kentucky (7 Steps)

Evicting a tenant in Kentucky requires the landlord to first send the tenant a notice of their intent to file for eviction. If the tenant does not respond to the notice appropriately, the landlord can then begin eviction proceedings. They will need to file a Complaint and Summons with the District Court local to the property. After the Sheriff serves the tenant, they will appear with the landlord at a formal hearing. If the judgment is made in favor of the landlord, the tenant will have seven (7) days to vacate the premises.

LawsKRS Chapter 383

How to Evict

Step 1 – Send Eviction Notice to Tenant

The landlord must issue a written notice to the tenant of their intent to terminate the lease agreement. The notice can be hand-delivered or mailed via certified mail. There are three types of notices to quit in the state of Kentucky:

  • Non-Payment of Rent (7-Day Notice): When a tenant misses the due date for their rent payment, the landlord may serve them with a notice that gives them seven (7) days to pay all overdue rent before the landlord can file for eviction action.5
  • Non-Compliance (15-Day Notice): This notice is used when the tenant breaches a provision of the lease agreement. If the breach goes unsolved by the fifteenth (15th) day from the notice issue date, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings.4
  • Month to Month Termination Lease Letter (30-Day Notice): Both the landlord and the tenant can use this form when they intend to terminate an at-will lease agreement at the end of thirty (30) days.6

Step 2 – Wait to Hear from the Tenant

The landlord waits the number of days on the notice to give the tenant an opportunity to respond, cure the breach or pay overdue rent. It is preferable to come to a compromise outside of court if possible.

Step 3 – File in Court 

  • Average Processing Time: 3-6 weeks
  • Filing Fee: Varies by County
  • Where to File: In person at the District Court local to the rental property

If the tenant does not respond to the notice within the specified time frame, the landlord can file for eviction with the court local to the property in question. This requires submitting a Complaint (AOC-216) and Summons (AOC-215) to the court.

Step 4 – Serve the Tenant

A Sheriff or constable must serve copies of the Complaint and Summons on the tenant no later than three (3) days prior to the hearing date specified on the Summons. They can deliver the documents directly to the tenant in person, to a family member of the tenant, or by conspicuously posting copies at the rental unit and mailing copies via first class mail.

Step 5 – Attend Court Hearing

The landlord and tenant must appear in court on the hearing date established in the Summons. If the tenant does not appear, the judge will rule in favor of the landlord by default.

Tenants can win in court based on a number of common tenant defenses. In Kentucky, tenants may claim that the landlord is out of compliance with any of the following responsibilities:

  • Discrimination: It is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant based on disability, familial status, gender, national origin, race, or religion.7
  • Retaliatory Eviction: The landlord may not evict tenants in retaliation for submitting complaints to the landlord and/or local authorities regarding the rental unit, or for joining a legal tenant rights association.
  • Right to Access: The landlord may not enter the rental unit without providing at least two (2) days’ advance notice to the tenant. They may also not change any locks without the tenant’s knowledge.3
  • Security Deposit: The landlord has sixty (60) days from the termination of the lease to return the security deposit. They may only keep the deposit if the tenant does not provide them with a forwarding address within the sixty (60) day time period.2

Tenants have seven (7) days from the date of an unfavorable judgment to appeal it.1

Step 6 – Obtain a Writ of Restitution

If the judge’s ruling is in favor of the landlord, they will issue a Writ of Restitution at the hearing. This gives the tenant seven (7) days to vacate the property.1

Step 7 – Repossess the Property

If the tenant has not vacated after the seventh (7th) day, the landlord can use the Writ of Restitution to utilize the Sheriff’s office to forcibly remove the tenant and their possessions from the property.1


  1. § 383.254
  2. § 383.580
  3. § 383.615
  4. § 383.660(1)
  5. § 383.660(2)
  6. § 383.695
  7. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tenant-defenses-evictions-kentucky.html