Forcible Entry and Detainer Law & Legal Definition


A Forcible Entry and Detainer is an action that a landlord, or new property owner can take if the existing occupant refuses to leave after appropriate notice.  This occupant could be either a tenant or original owner of property that was sold at a foreclosure or trustee's sale.  The laws governing forcible entry and detainer actions are different if the property is residential or non-residential.

The tenant/occupant must receive a written demand to vacate the property.  The term of the period to vacate is dictated by the type of occupancy - whether commercial or residential and whether a tenant or a owner that was foreclosed on.  This term normally is either 5 or 7 days, unless the contract states otherwise. After the 5-7 days expire and the tenant/occupant still refuse to leave then a complaint for a forcible detainer action can be filed. The statutes provide for a short notice period before a court hearing. The sole issue at the court hearing is whether or not the tenant/occupant has the right to possession.  If they do not then they will be found guilty of a forcible entry and detainer.