Navigating the Idaho Eviction Process: A Guide for Attorneys Representing Landlords by Katelin E. Bartles


by Katelin E. Bartles

The Idaho eviction process is a unique and often confusing segment of landlord-tenant law. Attorneys who specialize in this field understand that Idaho’s eviction statutes are poorly written and terribly disorganized, often making it difficult to navigate the process correctly. This article provides the framework for attorneys representing landlords and outlines the different types of eviction proceedings in Idaho. With the help of this guide, your law office should be well-equipped to represent landlord clients effectively.

Idaho’s eviction code comprises several distinct categories, each with its own set of unique rules and procedures. The main types of evictions include those for non-payment of rent, failure to vacate following non-renewal of a lease term, lease violations, drug-related evictions, removal of manufactured homes from leased property, and forcible detainer cases.

Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent

The most common form of eviction is failure to pay rent. Non-payment evictions arise when a tenant fails to meet their financial obligations as stipulated in their lease agreement. These evictions can also be pursued if the non-payment violates an oral agreement, albeit such scenarios are much more difficult to prove in court. Idaho Code § 6-303(2) defines and discusses when eviction for non-payment is appropriate.

To initiate the eviction process, landlords must first serve the tenant with a three-day notice to pay or vacate. As one might assume, the notice states that the tenant has three days from the date of the notice delivery to either pay the rent owed or vacate the premises. Often judges may refer to said notice as a “three-day notice to quit,” a synonymous term that is popular with some practitioners. Proper delivery of the notice is crucial.

Idaho Code § 6-304, the first example of a horrendously written statute, provides guidance on how to effectuate service. Ideally, the notice should be personally delivered to the tenant and can be delivered by any adult, including the landlord. If personal delivery is not possible, the landlord may choose to post the notice on the property and provide an additional copy via standard mail. In my experience, it is best practice to advise your landlord client to also send a copy of the notice via text, as this is often the most common form of communication between landlords and tenants.

The three-day notice must include information about the consequences of a judgment being entered against the tenant. Three-day notices must include language stating that tenants will have 72 hours to remove their belongings following a judgment of eviction.[i] Commercial tenants and tenants with more than five acres of property are entitled to longer removal times post-judgment.[ii] Failure to include this language requires re-service to the tenant with proper notice, and as such restarts the three-day period to comply. This occurs even if an eviction action has already been filed.

If the tenant fails to vacate or make the required lease payment within the three-day period, as the landlord’s attorney you will need to file a complaint for an expedited eviction and corresponding summons. The complaint filed should include all necessary information as required by Idaho Code § 6-310. The summons issued is not a standard summons, as landlords are entitled to a hearing within twelve days of filing the complaint. As such, the format of the summons may vary depending on the judicial district and courthouse. In Ada County, for instance, the filing attorney should leave a blank space for the expedited hearing’s date and time, with the Court later filling in this information before returning the conformed copy. In accordance with Idaho Code § 6-310(2), the complaint and summons must be served at least five days before the hearing date.

Generally, the expedited hearing will focus solely on whether payment was made, or if the tenant vacated within the required three-day period. According to Idaho Code § 6-310(2), the scheduled hearing is the trial the landlord is entitled to. However, in practice judges will often reset the trial for a later but imminent date. In my experience, the hearing is best utilized as an opportunity to negotiate payment or a move out date between the parties. Some courts require the parties to attend mandatory mediation during the expedited hearing, a process that is highly beneficial to both parties involved. 

Eviction for Failure to Vacate Following Non-Renewal of a Lease Term

Non-renewal evictions occur when a tenant remains in possession of a property after receiving proper notice that their lease term has ended. Idaho Code § 6-303(1) defines this type of eviction and discusses when eviction for non-renewal is appropriate.

The notice period for non-renewal is generally contingent upon the terms outlined in the written lease agreement. Each lease agreement is different and may specify different notice periods for non-renewal. However, to comply with Idaho Code § 55-307(3)(a), the notice period must occur at least 30 days before the lease term ends. Otherwise stated, notice of non-renewal must be delivered to a tenant at least 30 days before the lease term ends, but individual leases may contract for a notice period greater than 30 days. Delivery of the notice should be in writing and in accordance with the lease terms.[iii] In situations without a written lease agreement, a tenancy at will, Idaho Code § 55-208(1) necessitates at least one month’s notice of non-renewal. Abysmally written Idaho Code strikes again when it comes to delivery of the notice for a tenancy at will. Idaho Code § 55-208(1) states that service must be made, “in the manner prescribed by the code of civil procedure.”

You may be shocked to hear that the I.R.C.P. doesn’t specifically state how to deliver such notices, and that there are multiple rules governing service of papers. In practice, judges in Ada, Canyon, Owyhee, Gem, and Elmore Counties have generally ruled that service is proper if done in accordance with I.R.C.P. 5(b), which allows for personal delivery and mailing among other things. In my practice, I typically advise clients to serve in the same manner that a three-day notice to pay or vacate is served.

If the tenant refuses to vacate the property after the term expires and proper notice has been served, the landlord will need to initiate the standard eviction process, which follows the typical lawsuit procedure. After serving the complaint and standard summons, tenants have 21 days to file an answer. If the tenant fails to respond, you’ll need to file for default and default judgment on behalf of your client. In cases where the tenant does respond, you’ll want to move for summary judgment. This approach is often effective if the tenant does not have an ownership interest in the property they are leasing.[iv]

"Each lease agreement is different and may specify different notice periods for non-renewal."

Eviction for Lease Violations

When a tenant violates a provision of their lease agreement, landlords can pursue a lease violation eviction. Idaho Code § 6-303(3) defines this type of eviction and discusses when eviction for a lease violation is appropriate. In such cases, landlords must serve the tenant with a three-day notice as specified in Idaho Code 6-303(3), which requires the same type of service called for in notices for failure to pay rent as previously discussed. If the tenant fails to rectify the violation within the stipulated three-day period, and your client would like to proceed with eviction for the violation, you’ll need to follow the standard eviction process as is detailed in the non-renewal section of this article. Keep in mind that the lease agreement may specify a different process or remedy for lease violations. As such it is important to compare Idaho Code § 6-303(3) and the lease agreement to ensure the proper process is being followed. I encourage landlords to work with tenants on lease violation issues rather than jump to an eviction. Open communication is more cost effective for landlords and keeps Idaho families housed.   

Eviction for Drug-Related Offenses

A less common eviction available to landlords occurs when their tenants commit drug-related offenses on the leased property. Idaho Code § 6-303(5) defines this type of eviction and discusses when eviction for a drug-related offense is appropriate. The expedited eviction process, as described in the non-payment section, is available for landlords whose tenants are engaged in the unlawful delivery, production, or use of a controlled substance on the leased property.[v] The delivery, production, or use must occur on the leased property, not elsewhere. Unfortunately, Idaho law does not provide judges a standard of proof on which to determine if a drug-related violation occurred. As such, the standard may vary depending on the courtroom and evidence provided by the landlord.

Eviction of a Manufactured Home from a Leased Lot

Evicting a tenant who owns a manufactured home located on rented lot involves adhering to the Idaho Manufactured Home Residency Act, found in Idaho Code § 55-2001 et seq. Although, when a tenant rents both the manufactured home and the lot it occupies, the eviction process aligns with non-payment, non-renewal, lease violation, or drug violation procedures, as applicable.

The eviction/removal of a manufactured home requires a 90-day notice, served in accordance with Idaho Code § 55-2020. Such code section mandates personal delivery or certified mailing with a return receipt. It’s essential to note that the Idaho Manufactured Home Residency Act isn’t applicable to recreational vehicles or travel trailers, so before initiating the eviction process, you’ll need to carefully research whether the act applies.[vi]

"Successfully navigating the Idaho eviction process requires not only legal expertise, but a strategic and compassionate approach."

Forcible Detainer Evictions

Forcible detainer, sometimes referred to as “squatting,” occurs when an individual unlawfully enters a property and refuses to vacate in violation of Idaho Code § 6-302. In other words, the person never had permission to occupy the property in the first place. In such situations, landlords should immediately file a forcible detainer complaint and summons against the unauthorized occupant. A hearing will then be scheduled within 72 hours of filing (excluding weekends and holidays), in accordance with Idaho Code 6-310(4).

What Happens if a Tenant Fails to Vacate Following an Eviction Judgment?

Following a judgment of eviction, tenants have 72 hours to vacate the property.[vii] If a tenant chooses not to leave after judgment is entered, you’ll need to file for and obtain a signed writ of restitution. As the attorney, you’ll need to deliver the signed writ to the county sheriff, who may execute it no earlier than three days after judgment was entered.[viii] Though not required by statute, most sheriff’s departments will provide tenants with 24-hour notice before removal. Remember, if the tenant is a commercial tenant or renting a property greater than five acres, they are entitled to extended time to vacate post judgment.[ix]

Can Landlords Collect Unpaid Rent and Court Costs via an Eviction Judgment?

The short answer is no, not on the eviction judgment alone. The standard eviction judgment for non-payment should list the amount of money owed to the landlord because of failure to pay rent and associated court costs. As such, non-payment eviction judgments do legally require the tenant make a payment to the landlord. However, the judgment itself lacks the authority to garnish wages, access a bank account, or employ other debt collection methods. To secure an enforceable money judgment, the landlord must initiate a separate legal proceeding.

Best Practices for Attorneys Handling Evictions for Landlords

Successfully navigating the Idaho eviction process requires not only legal expertise, but a strategic and compassionate approach. In this regard, attorneys should prioritize a few key practices for optimal results. First and foremost, effective communication with tenants is crucial. This can often lead to resolutions that benefit both parties. Mediation can play a significant role, serving as a valuable tool for dispute resolution.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the time frame for move-outs. Encouraging landlords to provide tenants with sufficient time to vacate the property, ideally at least two weeks, can be a pragmatic approach. This not only reduces legal costs, but minimizes costs related to property clean-up and clearing. As attorneys we need to be reasonable, moving out of one’s house doesn’t happen in a day. It’s important to recognize, and communicate as such to landlord clients, that tenants need time to get their moving and future housing situated.

Lastly, collaboration with local housing organizations can be an essential part of the eviction process. Attorneys should strongly consider working with local housing groups, such as Jesse Tree[x] in the Treasure Valley, who offer temporary rental assistance in cases of non-payment evictions. Such collaborations can aid in achieving favorable outcomes for both landlords and tenants, ensuring a more cost effective, balanced, and fair eviction process.


Navigating the Idaho eviction process is a multifaceted task that demands a thorough understanding of the specific type of eviction being pursued. Attorneys practicing in this area of law should be well-versed in Idaho’s statutes and procedures to effectively represent their clients. By following the guidelines and best practices outlined in this article, attorneys for landlords can more confidently navigate the eviction process and help their clients achieve their desired outcomes.

Katelin E. Bartles

Katelin E. Bartles is a solo practitioner based in the Treasure Valley. A graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law, Katelin has been handling evictions since 2020. In addition to practicing law, Katelin enjoys skiing, golfing, and brunching.

[i] Idaho Code § 6-303(2).

[ii] Id.

[iii] I.C. § 55-307(3).

[iv] Tenants do not have an ownership interest in the property there are leasing under a standard lease. However, if the lease includes additional terms, such as rent to own language, it’s possible the tenant may have an ownership interest in the property.

[v] I.C. § 6-303(5).

[vi] I.C. § 55-2004.

[vii] I.C. § 6-316(2).

[viii] Id.

[ix] I.C. § 6-316(2).