Unlawful Detainer Action Law and Legal Definition

Unlawful detainer action refers to a special court proceeding brought by a landlord against a tenant with the intention to evict the tenant from the rental property. This summary proceeding can be initiated either for nonpayment of rent, or at the expiry or cancellation of a lease. Unlawful detainer order granted in favor of a landlord will allow the sheriff to forcefully remove the tenant from the rental property when a tenant refuses to leave the rental property.

In Holliday Land & Livestock Co. v. Pierce, 174 Mont. 393, 399 (Mont. 1977), the court observed that ‘the nature of an unlawful detainer action is a civil action at law sounding in tort. The action is a purely statutory civil proceeding unknown to common law. An unlawful detainer action is a summary proceeding in which the primary purpose is to obtain the possession of real property in situations specified by statute.