Landlords in Idaho can’t just change the locks, toss your belongings out on the front yard, or shut down essential utilities. A landlord must follow the eviction process in order to have a tenant evicted for any reason. Here's an overview of what this means for tenants in Idaho.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated November 30, 2021
Getting an eviction notice is stressful. You may feel like you have no options. Luckily, Idaho law protects renters throughout the eviction process. This article guides you through the Idaho eviction process and explains how you can claim your rights. If you’re a tenant in Idaho who’s facing an eviction threat because you owe past-due rent or your lease is expiring, this article may be helpful.
What Is Eviction?
Landlords use an eviction to make a tenant or renter leave their property. In the state of Idaho, landlords are required to provide an eviction notice that explains why they want you out before they can evict you. Landlords must also give you a certain number of days to resolve the problem. If you fail to solve the issue by the time the notice expires, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit to get a court order to force you out.
If your landlord forces you to leave without a court judgment, they are violating the law. This action is an illegal eviction or illegal lockout.
Idaho has three types of evictions, which we’ll discuss in this article.
Who Can Be Evicted in Idaho?
You can only face eviction if there’s a landlord-tenant relationship. A tenant is someone who has an agreement with a landlord or property owner to rent their property. Also, anyone who lives with the tenant can be evicted, even if they’re not on the lease.
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Why Can Someone Be Evicted in Idaho?
Generally, you can be evicted for three reasons in the state of Idaho:
Nonpayment of rent — If you don’t pay the full amount of your rent, fail to pay any rent, or are late on your rent, you can face eviction.
Lease violation — When you violate a term of the lease (besides not paying rent) you can be evicted. One example would be keeping a pet that the lease forbids.
Lease expiration — If your lease expires and you don’t leave, you can be evicted.
You’ll generally face the same eviction process regardless of the reason. That said, the amount of notice the landlord must give you before they can pursue the eviction in court may vary depending on the reason for the eviction.
Late, Short, or Behind on Rent?
You can face eviction if you owe any rent payments. This is true even if your rent is a day late. Your landlord only needs to give you a 3-day notice to pay the rent or vacate.
Lease Expiration or Termination
Idaho permits evictions when the lease expires, is terminated, or if there’s no lease. In these instances, the landlord can evict you, even if you’ve paid all of your rent.
When your lease expires or if there’s no lease, the landlord needs to give you a 30-day notice to leave. If you don’t leave, the landlord can seek an eviction.
Lease termination happens when your landlord chooses to end your lease because you violated the rental agreement. An example is having a pet when it’s not allowed. In this instance, the landlord must give you three days to fix the issue before they can pursue the eviction.
Idaho law has a separate provision allowing for termination of the lease when you commit “waste” or illegal activity. Waste is when you damage the rental property. Illegal activity is when you break the law on the property, such as having a controlled substance on the property. For either of these situations, the landlord only needs to give you a 3-day notice to leave before pursuing an eviction.
The Idaho Eviction Process
In this section we look at how eviction proceedings work in Idaho, so you can better understand the court process.
What does a landlord have to do to begin an eviction?
To file an eviction lawsuit (also known as unlawful detainer), an Idaho landlord needs to give the tenant written notice that describes how long the tenant has to move out and if they can cure the problem. Curing the problem means addressing the issue and making the problem go away. If you have a pet that isn’t allowed, for example, you can cure the problem by rehoming the pet.
For illegal activity or waste, tenants receive a 3-day notice. They have no right to cure.
When a tenant’s rent is past due, they get three days’ notice to pay the rent or face eviction.
With all lease violations, you have three days to fix the issue or face eviction.
If you have a month-to-month lease and the landlord wants you to vacate, they need to give you 30 days’ notice.
When you don’t have a lease, the landlord needs to give you 30 days’ notice to leave.
If your lease is expiring, the landlord needs to provide a 30-day notice for you to vacate.
What happens once the eviction action is filed with the court?
Once the notice expires, the landlord needs to go to court to get a detainer warrant. With this, they can serve you a summons that has the court date. The landlord can’t personally serve you. They can have anyone over 18 serve the summons by:
Giving it to you in person,
Giving it to someone over 18 who lives with you and mailing you the copy, or
Posting a copy of the summons on the property and mailing it to you.
For evictions concerning the nonpayment of rent or illegal activity, the summons needs to be served at least five days before the hearing. The court hearing must occur within 12 days of the landlord filing the complaint. Renters can file a continuance of two days. A continuance allows the hearing to be rescheduled.
For other types of evictions, Idaho law doesn’t specify when the eviction hearing must take place. Eviction hearings for the other types of evictions will be scheduled according to court availability but will likely occur more than three weeks after the complaint is filed.
For all eviction lawsuits, except ones involving the payment of rent or illegal activity, you need to file a written answer to attend the hearing. Filing an answer will involve filling out a form through the court that provides information on what defenses you’re raising. These defenses can include reasons why you shouldn’t be evicted or damages that you’re seeking.
You have 21 days to file an answer after you receive the summons. If you don’t then you risk the landlord receiving a default judgment. For evictions concerning the nonpayment of rent or illegal activity, the tenant doesn’t need to file an answer, but they must show up or they risk a default judgment. This means that the landlord wins the lawsuit because you didn’t go to court. If you need legal advice, consider contacting a tenant’s rights lawyer.
Telling Your Side of the Story: Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims
Filing an answer allows you to defend yourself through affirmative defenses and counterclaims. At the hearing, you should provide evidence to back up your answer. Affirmative defenses are reasons why you shouldn’t be evicted, such as:
The landlord didn’t provide proper notice.
Your landlord is evicting you because of discrimination.
Your landlord brought the eviction because you complained about issues in the unit.
The landlord’s reasons for evictions aren’t true.
There are safety violations on the property.
You also can bring a counterclaim, which is when you sue for damages. If you win a counterclaim, it won’t prevent the eviction. But it can help you get compensated for money that the landlord owes you or reduce how much you need to pay the landlord. These claims typically concern disagreements over rent.
What Happens After an Eviction Trial?
If the landlord wins, then the court enters a judgment within five days. The judgment is known as a writ of restitution. Idaho law enforcement will immediately respond to the writ and make you leave.
If you want to appeal an eviction, you need to file an appeal within 30 days of the judgment. The court can assist you in getting the appropriate forms to file an eviction appeal. During the appeal, you need to explain why you believe the ruling was incorrect and how this error shows you shouldn’t be evicted.
Practical Tips for Tenants Facing Eviction in Idaho
On top of knowing Idaho’s state laws on evictions, there are practical steps you can take when dealing with an eviction.
Gather evidence to support your claims, such as receipts of rent paid or photos and videos that demonstrate how the property looks. It’s a good idea to get a building inspector to create a formal report about the rental unit.
If you can’t attend the eviction hearing, you should contact the court and try to postpone the court date. If they can’t, then ask how you can prevent a default judgment.
If you pay the rent to prevent an eviction regarding a rent dispute, keep a record that proves the payment.
Keep in touch with property management and try to resolve any issues right away. This can stop the issue from rising to an eviction. It’s best to prevent an eviction at all costs, even when you’re leaving the property because if an eviction is on your record, it could make it hard to rent in the future.
If you’re being evicted, try to negotiate with your landlord or their lawyer. The landlord might even drop the eviction if you agree to move out by a certain date. Make sure you get a copy of any agreement you make in writing. And both you and the landlord should sign it.