Filing A Formal Eviction
Learn the ten basic steps to file a "formal" eviction case, including how to set a "show cause" hearing at the start of your case where you can ask the judge for a "temporary writ of restitution" to get possession of the property.
CAUTION! Unless your tenant has surrendered or abandoned possession of the rental property, you must file an eviction case in order to remove the tenant! (NRS 118A.480.) If you lock the tenant out of the property, use force or threats to remove the tenant, or terminate the tenant's utilities or services, you could be sued by the tenant and punished by the court.
Step 1: Choose the correct eviction notice
Step 2: Serve the eviction notice on the tenant
Step 3: Prepare and file a summons and complaint
Step 4: Prepare and file an application for a “show cause” hearing
Step 5: Serve the summons, complaint, application, and order on the tenant
Step 6: Attend the “show cause” hearing
Step 7: Prepare the order, temporary writ, and notice of security
Step 8: Post the security and submit your order and writ for signature
Step 9: Make arrangements with the constable to remove the tenant
Step 10: Evaluate your next step
Each of the ten steps is discussed below.
To learn more about formal evictions, click to visit Overview of the “Formal” Process and Choosing the Summary or Formal Process. To see how the formal eviction process works, click on the following flowchart:
TIP! You may need to hire an attorney. A “formal” eviction is a civil case, which means a property manager or agent CANNOT file documents with the court or appear in court for the property owner. The owner must represent him or herself or hire an attorney. If the property owner is a business (like a corporation or an LLC), it will absolutely need to hire a lawyer because those businesses cannot represent themselves in court. The "formal" eviction process can be complicated. If you’re not familiar with court procedure and the eviction process, hire a lawyer! Click to visit Lawyers and Legal Help.
If you are filing a “formal” eviction case because a “summary” eviction was denied, you may have already served the tenant with an eviction notice. If the notice was valid and properly served, you can file a formal case without serving another notice to the tenant. If you have already served a valid notice, click to skip to Step 3.
If you have not yet served a notice, all formal eviction cases start with a notice to the tenant. The type of notice the landlord gives depends on why the landlord is trying to evict the tenant. Grounds for eviction include:
- Failing to pay rent. Click to learn more about Rent Notices.
- Committing a nuisance, improperly assigning or subletting, committing waste, or conducting an illegal business. Click to learn more about Notices for Nuisance, Waste, Assigning/Subletting, Unlawful Business, or Drug Violation.
- Violating the lease agreement. Click to learn more about Lease Violation Notices.
- Terminating a tenancy-at-will. Click to learn more about Tenancy-at-Will Notices.
- "No cause" evictions where the lease has expired or there is no lease. Click to learn more about No-Cause Notices.
Click the above links for forms and more information or click to visit Eviction & Housing Forms.
CAUTION! If you're trying to evict a tenant or a former owner after the foreclosure sale of a residential property, click to visit Eviction Issues Related to Foreclosure. If you're trying to evict a tenant who rents a mobile home lot, there are different notices that apply. Click to visit Mobile Homes.
All eviction notices must be "served" (delivered to the tenant) in one of the three following ways:
- Serving the tenant personally, in the presence of a witness. (NRS 40.280(1)(a).)
- If the tenant is not at the rental property, leaving a copy with a person "of suitable age and discretion" (at least fourteen years old) AND mailing a copy to the tenant at the address of the rental property. (NRS 40.280(1)(b).) (If you use this method, you must get a “certificate of mailing” from a U.S. Post Office. It is not “certified” mail.)
- If a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found at the rental property, posting a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the rental property AND mailing a copy to the tenant at the address of the rental property. (NRS 40.280(1)(c).) (If you use this method, you must get a “certificate of mailing” from a U.S. Post Office. It is not “certified” mail.)
You must first try to serve the notice by method number 1 above (personal service). You can serve by method number 2 above only if the tenant "is absent from his place of residence." And you can serve by method number 3 above only when "a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found" at the rental property.
CAUTION! If you're trying to evict a tenant or a former owner after the foreclosure sale of a residential property, there are unique notice requirements. Click to read Evicting a Tenant After Foreclosure or Evicting a Former-Owner After Foreclosure.
You will need to file one of the following proofs of service with the court:
- A statement, signed by the tenant and a witness, acknowledging that the tenant received the notice on a specified date. (NRS 40.280(3)(a).)
- A "certificate of mailing" issued by the United States Postal Service. (A "certificate of mailing" is not the same as "certified mail." A "certificate of mailing" is a white receipt that can be obtained from the post office upon mailing. To see an example, click on the link below.) If the landlord rents the property by the week, a certificate of mailing issued by a contract postal unit will suffice. (NRS 40.280(3)(b).)
Certificate of Mailing Example
- The endorsement of a sheriff, constable, or other process server stating the time and manner of service. (NRS 40.280(3)(c).)
If you want the constable in your township to prepare and serve the eviction notice for you, contact your local constable's office to make arrangements and obtain fee information. Click to visit Constables & Sheriffs.
If the tenant complied with the eviction notice (by paying rent, remedying the lease violation, or moving, for example), you might not need to proceed with the eviction. If the tenant did not comply with the eviction notice, you can prepare and file a Complaint for Unlawful Detainer and have the clerk issue a Summons to begin a formal eviction case. (NRS 40.300 to 40.425.)
TIP! Before you file a complaint, you must decide what court to file in. If you're seeking money damages of $10,000 or less, file in the justice court for the township where the property is located. If you're seeking money damages above $10,000, file in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Click to visit Justice Court or District Court to learn more.
Forms for a Summons, Complaint for Unlawful Detainer, and Civil Court Cover Sheet are available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center. You can download the forms by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below:
FYI! These forms are designed for landlord-tenant cases filed in the justice court. If you're evicting a tenant or a former-owner after the sale or foreclosure of a residence, click to visit Evicting a Tenant After Foreclosure or Evicting a Former Owner After Foreclosure. If you’re evicting a tenant from a mobile home park, click to visit Mobile Homes.
CIVIL COURT COVER SHEET
To prepare and file your documents, follow these steps:
- Complete the summons, civil cover sheet, and complaint forms accurately and thoroughly. Be sure to sign the forms.
- Attach the exhibits to the complaint (the rental agreement if one exists, the eviction notice served, and proof of service).
- (Skip this step if filing in the Las Vegas Justice Court.) Make at least two complete stapled copies of both the summons and complaint. Punch the top of the original documents with a two-hole punch and stamp or write “original” between the two holes.
- Take the summons, civil cover sheet, and complaint to the appropriate justice court and give them to the court clerk. If you are filing in the Las Vegas Justice Court you must have an e-mail address, and you may be able to file the documents electronically without going to the courthouse. Click to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court website for more information.
- Pay the required filing fee, which will vary depending on the amount of money claimed in the complaint. Click to visit Filing Fees and Waivers for more information.
- Receive your copies back from the clerk. If filing in Las Vegas, you will receive the documents by e-mail from the court in one or two days.
For more information, click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing.
If you want to evict the tenant as quickly as possible (and before trial), file an application asking the court to set a “show cause” hearing. At the hearing, you can ask the court for a Temporary Writ of Restitution, which is a court order for the tenant’s removal. (NRS 40.300(3), JCRCP 107.) To learn more, click to visit Formal Eviction Hearings and Overview of the “Formal” Process.
Most landlords want to get a temporary writ and remove the tenant quickly. But you could also skip this step and set the case for trial. A trial cannot be set less than twenty calendar days after tenant is served with the summons and complaint. (JCRCP 109(a).) For more information, click to skip to Step 10 below.
A form Application for Order to Show Cause Why a Temporary Writ of Restitution Should Not Issue (Not After Sale), which includes an Order to Show Cause, is available, free of charge, at the Civil Law Self-Help Center. You can download the form by clicking one of the listed formats underneath the form's title below:
FYI! This form is designed for landlord-tenant cases filed in the justice court. If you're evicting a tenant or a former owner after the sale or foreclosure of a residence, click to visit Evicting a Tenant After Foreclosure or Evicting a Former Owner After Foreclosure. If you’re evicting a tenant from a mobile home park, click to visit Mobile Homes.
To prepare and file your application, follow these steps:
- Complete the application and order to show cause (Exhibit 3 to the application). Be sure to sign the forms.
- Attach the required exhibits to the application (the Summons and Complaint for Unlawful Detainer that you prepared and filed in Step 3 above).
- (Skip this step if filing in the Las Vegas Justice Court.) Make at least two complete stapled copies of the application (with exhibits). Punch the top of the original documents with a two-hole punch and stamp or write “original” between the two holes.
- Give your application and copies to the court clerk for filing (or file the application electronically, if available).
- Submit the application for the judge’s review and signature. The justice courts may have different procedures for doing this. In Las Vegas, you submit the application and order to the court clerk, who forwards it to the judge. In other courts, you might file it with the clerk and then deliver it to the judge’s chambers. Check with the court clerk where you are filing to verify how to submit your application and order. Also ask the clerk how you will be notified when the order has been signed.
- Pick up the signed “show cause” order and file it with the court clerk if it has not already been filed.
For more information, click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing.
Arrange to have a copy of the following documents "served" (personally delivered) to the tenant:
- Complaint for Unlawful Detainer (including all exhibits)
- Order to Show Cause (signed by the judge with a hearing date)
- Application for Order to Show Cause Why a Temporary Writ of Restitution Should Not Issue (including all exhibits)
(You may want to staple the documents into two packets: (1) Summons and Complaint, and (2) Order and Application.)
The document packets must be served by a process server, the constable or sheriff, or any person who is not a party to the action and who is over eighteen years of age. (NRS 40.300(2), JCRCP 4.) For contact information for the sheriff or constable, click to visit Constables & Sheriffs.
TIP! Arrange for service of the documents as quickly as possible! And make sure the documents are served at least 11 calendar days before the hearing date. If they aren’t, the hearing can’t be held.
The tenant must be served personally or by leaving copies at the tenant's home with some person of suitable age and discretion (at least fourteen years old) who lives there. (JCRCP 4(a), (d)(6).)
The process server, constable, or sheriff who serves the documents must complete an affidavit or declaration of service, which must be filed with the court. (A declaration of service they can complete is part of the summons form you filed in Step 3.)
FYI! Some process servers fill out the affidavit or declaration of service and give it back to you to file with the court. Others will file it with the court themselves. Check with your process server to verify the procedure. And whatever the procedure, make sure an affidavit or declaration proving service on the tenant is on file with the court before the “show cause” hearing date!
If the judge signed the “show cause” order you submitted in Step 4, you should have received a date and time for the “show cause” hearing. To learn about what to expect and how to prepare, click to read Formal Eviction Hearings.
At the hearing, if the judge rules for you and grants a temporary writ of restitution, go to Step 7.
If the judge rules in the tenant’s favor and refuses to issue a writ, you typically have two options:
- Start the whole eviction process over again. Serve the tenant with a new eviction notice for some violation that has occurred since the last notice or for a different violation than the one previously noticed. Then try to evict the tenant using the “summary” eviction process. If the summary eviction is not successful, you may have to file another “formal” eviction case.
- Set the case for trial. At trial, you would need to overcome whatever issue prevented the judge from ordering the temporary writ. You would also need to prove (through witness testimony and documentary evidence) that you are entitled to permanent possession of the property. For more information, click to read Formal Eviction Hearings and click to jump to Step 10.
If, at the “show cause” hearing, the judge ruled in your favor and granted the temporary writ of restitution, prepare three documents: (1) Order Directing Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution, (2) Notice of Posting Bond for Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution, and (3) Temporary Writ of Restitution.
These forms are available, free of charge, at the Self-Help Center, or you can download the forms by clicking on one of the formats underneath the form’s title below:
For more information, click to visit Basics of Court Forms and Filing.
When the judge granted the temporary writ in Step 6, the judge should have ordered the landlord to post “security” (money). The security is protection for the tenant. If it turns out that the tenant was wrongfully evicted, the tenant can get the security to pay for any damage the tenant suffered. (NRS 40.300(c).)
Before you can get the Temporary Writ of Restitution, you must post the security ordered by the judge with the court clerk. The clerk can typically accept cash or a bond obtained by the landlord from a bonding company (depending on what the judge ordered and the court’s practices). You must:
- Make a copy of the bond (if you are posting a bond) and attach it to the Notice of Posting Security for Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution that you prepared in Step 7.
- (Skip this step if filing in the Las Vegas Justice Court.) Make at least two stapled copies of the three documents you prepared in Step 7. Punch the top of the original documents with a two-hole punch and stamp or write “original” between the two holes.
- Take the security (cash or bond) and the three documents you completed in Step 7 (with copies) to the court clerk.
- Give the security (cash or bond) to the court clerk.
- File the Notice of Posting Bond for Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution with the court clerk.
- Submit the (1) Order Directing Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution and (2) Temporary Writ of Restitution to the court clerk, who will forward the documents to the judge for review and signature. (The court where you are filing may have a different procedure. Check with the court clerk and follow the clerk’s instructions.)
- Verify with the court clerk how you will be notified when the order and writ have been signed and are ready for pickup.
- Mail a copy of the Notice of Posting Bond for Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution to the tenant (or the tenant’s attorney if one has appeared in the case).
- When the judge has signed the order and writ, pick up the documents and file them with the court clerk (if they are not already filed).
- Prepare the Notice of Entry of Order form below. Attach a copy of the Order Directing Issuance of Temporary Writ of Restitution to the completed notice form. Mail a copy of the notice (and the attached order) to the tenant, and file the notice (and attached order) with the court.
NOTICE OF ENTRY OF ORDER OR JUDGMENT
If the court granted a Temporary Writ of Restitution, make arrangements with the constable in the township where the property is located to serve the writ and remove the tenant. The constables' procedures and fees for this service may vary, so make arrangements with the appropriate constable's office in advance.
You might also need to prepare instructions to the constable regarding the eviction. For an instruction form for the Las Vegas Constable, the North Las Vegas Constable, or the Henderson Constable, click on one of the listed formats underneath the appropriate form's title below:
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CONSTABLE – EVICTIONS (LAS VEGAS)
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CONSTABLE – EVICTIONS (NORTH LAS VEGAS)
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE CONSTABLE – EVICTIONS (HENDERSON)
For an instruction form for a constable in one of the other townships in Clark County, visit that constable's website or contact that constable's office directly. Click to visit Constables & Sheriffs for contact information
Once the constable evicts the tenant, evaluate whether you want to dismiss your case or pursue it.
For most landlords, the primary goal is to evict the tenant. Once the tenant is gone, most landlords have little interest in taking the case to trial. Understandably so. Trial can be extremely time-consuming and stressful. Unlike the “show cause” hearing (or a summary eviction hearing or a small claims hearing that you might have attended), the court’s rules and procedures at trial are more formal and more complicated. A trial, you will need to:
- Examine and cross-examine witnesses on the stand under oath
- Learn and comply with the court’s rules of evidence
- Learn and comply with the court’s procedural rules that govern trials
- Present your evidence and arguments in a clear, compelling, and understandable way under stressful conditions
And probably the biggest factor weighing against going to trial: The tenant has the right to request a jury! That means you could end up making opening and closing statements, examining witnesses, and conducting the whole trial in front of an audience!
Some things to consider when deciding whether to go forward with your case are:
Is the rent money the tenant owes worth the time, stress, and aggravation of going to trial?
Do you have the time to devote to preparing for and conducting a trial?
Are you willing to put the time and effort into collecting the judgment if you win? The court does not collect the judgment for you. You will need to prepare and file a number of court documents.
If you win and get a judgment, what are the chances of ever collecting the money? Does the tenant have a job and make enough money to be garnished? Is the tenant’s income protected by law? (Social security, disability income, veterans’ benefits, and many other types of governmental payments cannot be taken to satisfy a judgment.)
Are you comfortable presenting your witnesses, arguments, and evidence to the judge in a formal courtroom setting, or will you be too nervous?
If the tenant requests a jury trial, will you be able to present your case effectively with a large group of people watching you?
Will you be able to think on your feet and make strategic legal decisions without help? (The judge must remain neutral, so she cannot coach, coax, or assist you. The tenant’s attorney is on the other side of the case and will not help you.)
Can you live with the chance that you could mess up the case, lose, and get nothing?
If you decide not to go to trial, you can wait thirty days and voluntarily dismiss your case. (JCRLV 43.5.) After a dismissal, the court will automatically return the bond that you posted. (JCRLV 43.5.)
How you dismiss your case depends on whether the tenant has filed an answer in the case.
- If the tenant has not filed an answer, prepare and file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Civil Action to dismiss the case. Simply fill out the form below, file it with the court clerk, and mail a copy to the tenant.
- If the tenant has filed an answer, file a motion asking the court to dismiss your case. The form below is a “generic” motion you can use. Simply fill out the form (you can title it “Motion for Voluntary Dismissal under JCRCP 41” or something similar), file it with the court clerk, get a hearing date, and mail a copy of the motion (with the hearing date) to the tenant.
If you decide to go to trial, file a Notice of Trial Setting. (Check with the justice court for the township where your case if filed to learn the court’s procedure for scheduling trials and to obtain a trial setting form if one is available.) A trial cannot be set less than twenty calendar days after tenant is served with the summons and complaint. (JCRCP 109(a).)
Read the Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure to learn what you will need to do to prepare for trial. The Nevada Civil Practice Manual will also be a great resource.