Taking Advantage of Idaho’s Speedy Eviction Laws

If you’re a landlord and your tenant refuses to pay rent, you can take advantage of Idaho’s speedy eviction process. This expedited proceedings allows landlord to get a judicial decree from a court without going through the long, drawn out procedure of most court cases.

If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, a speedy eviction can be accomplished through the expedited proceedings described in Idaho Code §§ 6-310 through 6-311D.  A landlord must keep in mind that a speedy eviction does not provide a judgment against the tenant for unpaid rent, or damages.  All the landlord can ask of the court is a judgment for eviction and the costs associated with the eviction.  This does not preclude the landlord from filing a second complaint at a later time against the tenant to collect the unpaid rent.  I.C. § 6-311A.  The expedited proceedings require the court to schedule a trial within 12 days of the date of the filing of the complaint and summons by the landlord.  I.C. § 6-310(5).  The only requirement for the landlord is that a copy of the summons and complaint must be served on the tenant at least five days before the day of the trial.  I.C. § 6-310(5).

The content of the complaint in a speedy eviction lawsuit is simple.  A landlord must include the following: (1) describe the property; (2) state that the tenant is in possession of the property; (3) allege the reason for the eviction (i.e. default in payment of rent, or the tenant is using a controlled substance on the property, or the lease term is expired and the tenant is holding over); (4) state that all notices required by law have been properly served upon the tenant; and (5) state that the landlord is entitled to possession of the property.  I.C. § 6-310(1) through (5).  In a complaint filed by a landlord in a proceeding for both eviction and for collection of damages the landlord includes the same information and adds the facts he is alleging that would entitle him to recover money from the tenant for the damages.  I.C. § 6-311E.

When can a landlord keep a security deposit?

Security deposits protect landlords from lost revenue and damage to the rental property.But when must a landlord refund a security deposit and when is it legal for a landlord to keep the entire deposit?

Under Idaho Code section 6-320 and 6-321, any money that is deposited with a landlord that is not rent is considered a “security deposit.” Once the tenant returns the premises back to the landlord, the landlord must do one of the following: 1) return the entire security deposit, 2) give a partial refund and provide a written statement with an itemized list explaining the amounts deducted, or 3) keep the entire security deposit and provide a written statement with an itemized list explaining the amounts deducted.

If the landlord deducts any money from  the security deposit, then the itemized list must be provided to tenant within 21 days after the lease ends, or within 30 days if previously agreed to in the lease. A landlord may deduct money from the security deposit for any reason agreed upon in the lease. If the lease is silent about the security deposit, however, then a landlord may deduct for any damages to the property, but cannot deduct for normal “wear and tear.”

Additionally, a landlord may keep a tenant’s security deposit if the tenant failed to give the landlord proper notice when breaking the lease. Typically, at least 30 days notice is required unless otherwise agreed to by the landlord and tenant.

If a landlord fails to return a security deposit to the tenant, then the tenant can write the landlord requesting an explanation and itemized deduction list. If, after three days of the tenant submitting this written request the landlord fails to provide this list, then the tenant  may initiate suit against the landlord. If the judge finds that the landlord did not properly return the deposit, then the tenant may be awarded up three times the amount of the security deposit in damages.

Finally, landlords should also beware of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act (ICPA) when deducting damages from a security deposit. The ICPA prohibits a landlord for deducting money for unnecessary and imaginary repairs. If the landlord is found in violation of the ICPA, then they may be fined up to $5,000.00 in addition to refunding the entire security deposit.

For representation in matters involving security deposits, evictions, leases, or any other aspect of landlord-tenant law, contact Angstman Johnson to set up a consultation.

5 Rules For Landlords When Dealing With A Problem Tenant

1. Make sure to keep a detailed list of all repair requests that the tenant made in writing and when you made any repairs. For a tenant to have standing in Idaho courts to file a claim for specific damages and performance against a landlord, the tenant must give their landlord three days written notice, listing each failure or breach upon which their action will be premised and written demand requiring performance or cure. Only after three days from when a written complaint has been provided to the landlord may the tenant have a cause of action against the landlord.

2. If the landlord hires an attorney, their attorney should immediately inform the problem tenant that the attorney represents the landlord and where necessary that their interests are different, and that the tenant may want to seek their own counsel. Remember, your attorney should not give any advice to the unrepresented tenant other than they should seek their own counsel.

3. Take the time to listen and negotiate with the problem tenant. Although you should protect your interest, remember the tenant is an unsophisticated party and is entitled to honest and fair dealing even if they may be unruly.

4. Make sure that the problem tenant clearly understands the terms of any agreement that you make with them (i.e. any settlement offer). If there is a misunderstanding or if they think they have been misled, the tenant could create even more of a headache for you and your attorney. Try to avoid any vast bargaining disparities in any agreement you make with the unrepresented tenant. It’s important to make an effort to ensure they understand, and willingly agree to any settlement.

5. Consider offering concessions to problem tenants to make them happy. It is often better to be flexible than go through the time and expense of a trial and the trouble of trying to collect on the full amount. For example, give them a 10 day window to move out. Allow them a reasonable time for them to collect their possessions and vacate the premises.

For representation in any eviction proceeding, contact ANGSTMAN JOHNSON to set up a consultation. 208.384.8588