Landlords in Kansas 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 Kansas.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated November 17, 2021
If you’re a renter or tenant in Kansas facing possible eviction, you’re probably going through an unpleasant time. To help you get through this challenge, we created this article. In it, you’ll find an overview of the eviction laws in Kansas, including the rights and protections you have just before and during an eviction. You’ll find this article especially applicable if you’re facing eviction due to the nonpayment of rent or if your lease is about to end.
What Is Eviction?
If a landlord begins an eviction action, it means they’re trying to remove a tenant or renter from a rental unit. To get an eviction, the Kansas landlord must have a court order. To get this court approval, the landlord must follow the requirements of the Kansas Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. If they don’t then the landlord could be liable for an illegal eviction.
Who Can Be Evicted in Kansas?
To evict someone in Kansas, there must first be a landlord-tenant relationship. This is created when the landlord and tenant have an agreement that the tenant will pay rent in return for permission to live on the landlord’s property. Often, this legal relationship is outlined in a written lease or rental agreement. If this legal relationship doesn’t exist, then an eviction may still be possible, but only in certain situations. For example, a roommate living with a tenant can still be evicted along with the tenant, even if the roommate isn’t on the lease.
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Why Can Someone Be Evicted in Kansas?
There are three reasons a tenant can be legally evicted in Kansas:
They didn’t pay the full rent amount by the due date.
They breached one or more lease terms other than the requirement to pay rent.
The lease is being terminated or is expiring.
For the most part, the eviction process is the same for each of these reasons. But there will be a few minor differences regarding the amount of written notice the landlord must provide before starting the eviction process.
Late, Short, or Behind on Rent?
In Kansas, a rent payment is late when it’s not paid in full on its due date. So even if you pay your rent the day after it’s due, your rent payment is late and your landlord can evict you. But your lease may have a grace period. This will state how many days after the rent due date you can make the payment and have it still be considered on time.
Lease Expiration or Termination
In Kansas, a landlord may evict a tenant when the lease is no longer in effect. This can happen if the lease term expires or if something happens that allows the landlord to terminate the lease. In either situation, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant even if the tenant is willing to and can continue to pay rent.
A lease expiration usually occurs when a lease ends, but the landlord refuses to renew or extend it. If the landlord terminates the lease, they end it early. This might happen if the tenant commits one or more significant lease violations.
The Kansas Eviction Process
The following is a basic overview of how residential evictions work in Kansas.
What does a landlord have to do to begin an eviction?
Once a tenant is late with a rent payment, the landlord may begin the eviction process by giving the tenant a Notice to Leave. The landlord may send this notice by mail or in person. If the notice is delivered in person, the tenant has three days to either move out or pay any back rent. If the notice was delivered by mail, the tenant has five days. If the tenant fails to leave or pay the rent in time, the landlord will start an eviction action with the court.
If the tenant breaches a provision in the lease, the landlord must provide a 30-day notice to the tenant. When the tenant receives this eviction notice, they have a choice. They can move out within 30 days, or they can fix the lease breach within 14 days. If they do neither, the landlord can start the eviction process with the court.
If the lease has expired or been terminated, the landlord must provide the following notice requirements:
In a week-to-week tenancy, the landlord must give a 7-day notice.
In a year-to-year tenancy or tenancy at will, the landlord must give a 30-day notice.
If the rental unit comes furnished, the landlord must give a 10-day notice, regardless of the rental term.
If a tenant receives the required notice and can’t get the landlord to renew or extend their lease, they must move out or risk eviction.
One thing to keep in mind is that the landlord doesn’t need to provide notice in any of the following situations:
The lease states when the tenancy must end.
The tenancy can be ended at any time by any party, and the tenant damages the property so that the property loses value. The law describes this as committing waste.
The tenant wrongfully refuses to leave the property despite the termination of their lease. This is called a holdover tenant.
There’s no landlord-tenant relationship.
What happens once the eviction action is filed with the court?
The eviction lawsuit officially begins when the landlord files a Petition for Eviction with the court. The court then issues a summons, which will have the date, time, and location of the first eviction hearing. Often called a “docket call,” this hearing will be scheduled 3-14 days after the summons is issued. The summons will also explain that you can contest the eviction by either showing up at the docket call or filing a written answer before the docket call.
The landlord then needs to serve you with a copy of the Petition for Eviction and summons. They can serve you themselves or use a sheriff’s deputy to:
Hand you the relevant documents.
Give the documents to someone living with you who’s of “suitable age and discretion.”
Leave a copy of the complaint and summons at your residence and send you a notice by first class mail that they left eviction documents at your residence.
Mail you the documents via certified mail or using any other form of delivery or courier service, as long as there’s sufficient proof of delivery.
If you don’t want to fight the eviction, it’s still good to attend the hearing. This will help you get an idea of how the eviction process is going and know when certain things will happen, like when you’ll have to move out.
If you plan to fight the eviction, you should consider both filing an answer and appearing at the first hearing. If you don’t show up at the docket call or file an answer, you risk having a default judgment entered against you. This means you’ll lose the case for the sole reason that you didn’t appear in court or respond to the landlord.
During the docket call, the judge will see if they can find a quick resolution to the eviction dispute. If not, the court will schedule a trial, usually within 14 days. At this trial, you’ll get the chance to present your defenses and evidence.
Telling Your Side of the Story: Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims
You’ll get your chance to tell the court your side of the story at your first court hearing or docket call. But it’s a good idea to also file an answer beforehand. In this answer, you must explain what you’re disputing about the landlord’s Petition for Eviction and list any affirmative defenses to the landlord’s eviction. You can, but aren’t required, to list any counterclaims you might have against your landlord.
An affirmative defense is a defense that, if accepted by the court, will prevent the landlord from evicting you. You must raise these defenses. The court won’t raise them for you if you neglect to do so. An example of an affirmative defense is that your landlord is trying to evict you because of your race.
A counterclaim is a legal claim that could be related to the eviction, but it addresses a separate legal issue. A potential counterclaim in an eviction could include asking for a reduction in the back rent the landlord claims you owe because your apartment didn’t contain the amenities promised in the lease.
If your eviction is the result of nonpayment of rent and your primary defense is that your landlord failed to properly maintain the property, understand that a judge may still grant the landlord’s eviction. This is because many judges consider the lack of maintenance to be a separate issue from the eviction. In other words, a judge is more likely to consider this argument as a counterclaim instead of an affirmative defense.
The difference between an affirmative defense and a counterclaim can be hard to determine sometimes. If you need additional guidance in your eviction proceeding, think about talking to a tenant’s rights lawyer. They can give you legal advice to better understand your options and identify which legal arguments and strategies are most likely to succeed.
What Happens After an Eviction Trial?
If the landlord wins at trial, the judge will issue a judgment of possession. The judge will then tell you to move out of the property by a certain date, which could be as soon as the next day. If you still don’t leave, the landlord can get a Writ of Restitution for Immediate Possession. This authorizes a sheriff’s deputy to physically remove you and your belongings from the property.
If you want to appeal the judge’s decision from the trial, you have seven days to file an appeal from the time the judgment is entered. But if you file an appeal, you’ll also need to post a supersedeas bond. The judge will set the amount of bond to be enough to assure the landlord that if you lose your appeal, the landlord will still get adequate financial compensation. If you want to continue living at the property during the appeal, a court may substitute the supersedeas bond by asking you to pay the court the rent you’d otherwise be paying the landlord.
Practical Tips for Tenants Facing Eviction in Kansas
If you find yourself at risk of eviction, there are several things you can do.
First, make a list of information that can serve as evidence during the eviction proceeding. Depending on the defenses you plan on raising, you’ll need to gather documents, photographs, invoices, receipts, videos, or any other evidence that can verify your claims to the court. If one of your defenses relates to the condition of the rental property, consider contacting your municipal building inspector to have them visit the property. They can then prepare a report confirming the condition of the property and any issues that are present.
Second, do everything you can reasonably do to attend your eviction hearing. If you have a compelling reason why you can’t attend, contact the court and see if you can reschedule the hearing. If this isn’t possible, still let the court know you won’t be there. This makes it far less likely the judge will enter a default judgment in the landlord’s favor.
Third, try to maintain good communication with your landlord. This will make it easier to negotiate an agreement to end the eviction or allow an eviction to occur on more favorable terms. For instance, a landlord may agree to drop the eviction case if you promise to move out by a certain time. The advantage here is that you can avoid having an eviction show up in your rental history. This will make it easier to find a new place to live after you move out.
If you do reach an agreement with your landlord, make sure it’s in writing and signed by both you and your landlord or the property manager. And if you have the opportunity to cure or fix a lease breach, pay careful attention to how you can prove you’ve cured the breach. If you need to make up for past-due rent, make sure you get receipts or some other record proving that you not only made the payment but that the landlord received it.
Lastly, take advantage of your available resources. Evictions are a common legal problem. There are many in-person and online assistance options for tenants in need of guidance. These resources include how to obtain emergency rental assistance or enroll in a rental assistance program.