The eviction process can be confusing, but we'll try to make it as clear as possible in this article.
While the eviction process in the markets where Revolution does business is generally pretty straightforward and relatively quick compared to other more anti-landlord states, it can still be pretty confusing for those who aren't used to dealing with it. We'll try to clarify how it all works in this article.
The first step after an eviction is filed is for the sheriff or constable to serve the eviction lawsuit on the resident. They will go out to the house and attempt to catch the resident in person. Policies vary by county, but most will attempt this two or three times. After that, they will do what is called "tack and mail," which means they post the eviction lawsuit on the door and also mail a copy to the resident. How long it takes for the sheriff or constable to effect the service can vary by county and time of year due to workload, but it can be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
The reason for trying to catch the resident in person is that this is the only way to guarantee that the resident was personally served with the suit. The only way to get a monetary judgment against the resident is to be certain that they personally received service.
If "tack and mail" has to be used, then we are only able to get a judgment for possession of the property, not for a monetary judgment against the resident for what they owe (unless they file an answer and show up in court for the hearing).
After the resident is served with the suit, they have 7 days to respond to the court. If the resident does not respond, then we automatically get what's called a "writ of possession" from the court, which means we don't get a monetary judgment against the resident, but we do get an order requiring the resident to vacate the property.
However, if the resident files a response with the court, then the judge will set a date for a court hearing. Generally, the judge will set a hearing no matter what, even if the resident's response is nonsensical or has no basis at all in the law. We agree that this is crazy, but it's how the court works, unfortunately.
How long we wait for a court hearing can vary greatly by county and time of year. For instance, most counties will shut down eviction hearings over the holidays, We know this isn't fair to the landlords, but the courts don't seem to care, unfortunately. In most cases, outside of holiday time, we get a court date in a few weeks. But, in some counties, it can take months if they have a large case backlog.
In court, we are always represented by experienced landlord/tenant attorneys. While some property management companies try to do this on the cheap and have their employees try cases in court, we don't believe this is what's best to represent our clients. We want only the best attorneys who have many years of experience handling eviction matters. The attorney will represent both you and Revolution, and will seek possession of the property and a monetary judgment against the resident for what they owe.
After the hearing, assuming we win (and we basically always do), then the judge will issue an order to the resident to vacate the property no later than 7 days.
In reality, the resident almost never vacates within 7 days, unfortunately, This means our attorneys have to request that the "writ of possession" be signed by the judge and issued to the county sheriff to forcibly remove the resident from the property.
At this point, the schedule of the forcible eviction (sometimes called a "lockout") is entirely up to the sheriff. Some sheriffs are very quick and get these scheduled in a couple of weeks. Other sheriffs are very slow and take months. Unfortunately, we are entirely at the mercy of the sheriff to schedule the removal of the resident, and we have no choice under the law but to wait for it.
When the forcible eviction date arrives, we will hire an eviction crew to meet the sheriff at the property. The sheriff will remove the resident from the property (by force, if necessary), and give our crew the all clear to go into the property and remove all of the resident's belongings. Everything will be placed on the curb by the street. Most counties require that we lave the belongings there for at least 24 hours so that the resident can retrieve them. At that point, the crew will go back and out and haul anything remaining to the dump.
All in all, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to many months, and it is very dependent upon the county. For example, Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb Counties in Georgia have been very slow to process evictions. But counties like Coweta and Fayette are very quick. Our attorneys do everything they can to move cases along, but ultimately it is up to the court and the sheriff.