Forcible entry and detainer: A legal action a new homeowner can take to evict the previous homeowner.
Forcible entry and detainer: A summary and swift legal remedy used by a homeowner entitled to actual possession of property to secure its possession, where the homeowner initially in possession of it refuses to surrender it when their right to possession ends.
Forcible Entry and Detainer: The Legal Eviction Process
A forcible entry and detainer is a legal action that a new property owner can take to remove the existing occupant if they refuse to leave after proper notice. This occupant can either be a tenant or the former owner of the property that was sold at a foreclosure or trustee’s sale.
According to Denver attorney B. Robertson Cohen, “In order to prevail in a forcible entry and detainer action, the landlord or his agent must show that the landlord has a right to possess the property, a landlord-tenant relationship under which the tenant entered (and typically resided in) the property, and that the tenant continues to possess the property without right or authority.”
Given that most foreclosures require court approval, once a homeowner has reached the forcible entry and detainer stage of the process, there is little recourse.
“There are limited defenses available to a forcible entry and detainer action, particularly where the action is commenced for non-payment of rent. Under those circumstances, the only viable defense may evidence that the landlord waived or excused the payment of rent, or where the tenant attempted to pay the rent, but it was not accepted by the landlord. Certain defenses appealing to equity or fairness may also be recognized, but they are generally unlikely to be successful,” Cohen says.
For homeowners who anticipate having to vacate their home, it pays to plan ahead and find suitable housing, rather than expose themselves to possible repercussions arising from a forcible entry and detainer action.
“Where a landlord prevails on a forcible entry and detainer action, the tenant will be forced to leave the premises and may be responsible for the payment of reasonable rent for the period they stayed in the property without the right to do so, as well as past due rent and late charges. The prevailing party, whether the landlord or the tenant, is generally entitled to recover damages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs,” Cohen says.