After filing your unlawful detainer case and winning an eviction for possessing your property in court, you may want to go to the property immediately and kick out the tenant. But it's important to follow the law when engaging in this part of the eviction process as well.

After receiving a judgment in your favor, a few steps are required by law to remove the tenant. This can end up resulting in what's called a "sheriff lockout." This term refers to when the sheriff will forcibly remove the tenant per the court's order if they do not leave by the date set by the judge. This article will explain how to go about seeking that out.

How to Obtain a Sheriff Lockout:

  1. File for a Writ of Possession - This is a legal document issued by the court in favor of the property owner after a successful eviction case. It lets the tenant know that they must leave the rental property by a specific date, or otherwise, they face forcible removal by law enforcement. This document is what orders the sheriff to remove the tenant.
  2. Submit the Writ of Possession to the sheriff - Generally, the landlord is required to provide the court-approved writ to the sheriff. Their office will schedule a date and handle the physical removal of the tenant if needed.
  3. The sheriff posts the "Notice of Eviction" on the tenant's door with a move-out date assigned. Each city and state has different timelines, but the eviction notice provides some time for the tenant to move out.

But what if the tenant doesn't abide by the eviction and decides to squat on the property? That's where the Sheriff's Lockout comes in. The sheriff will schedule a day to come to the property and notify the property owner. The landlord meets the sheriff at the property on the scheduled day, and the sheriff will physically remove the tenant from the property if need be.

The sheriff lockout is the last step of the eviction process, and hopefully, the tenant leaves before it gets to this point.

Other Tips When Seeking a Sheriff Lockout:

  • Change the locks or arrange for a locksmith to visit the property while the sheriff is there onsite.
  • Research your local laws on what you must do with any property left behind.
    • Some states require that the property is safely stored for several days.
    • Some states require a letter to the tenant stating how much and where the tenant must pay to get their belongings.
    • Know that cars left on the property also account as belonging when considering what to do with any leftover belongings from the lockout.
  • Understand that your Notice of Eviction can expire (timing varies) if the eviction does not proceed. Research your state's guidelines to find out how long you have.
  • Be aware that all information regarding the litigant's names, addresses, and telephone numbers are public record as a matter of law.