The Civil Division is responsible for receiving, processing, serving and returning court orders, legal documents and notices. The service of these documents is sometimes simply delivering them. At other times depending on the intention and commands of the court, serve means the Sheriff’s Office must enforce the content of the written document.
THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT REPLACE A LAWYER
When the Sheriff’s Office receives a Notice to Pay Unpaid Rent, (sometimes referred to as a 3 day Notice) a Deputy Sheriff will go to the address provided and attempt service. We will repeatedly attempt service until it is served or until it becomes obvious the persons are intentionally avoiding the service and our efforts are of no use.
When the Sheriff’s Office receives a Notice to Quit, a Deputy Sheriff will go to the address provided and attempt service and continue as stated above.
In either case, the Deputy Sheriff will have multiple other papers and duties to attend to and will spend hours throughout the day attempting to complete the tasks for as many of these as is reasonably possible. A Plaintiff requesting Service needs to provide as much information as may be helpful to the Sheriff’s Office to assist the Deputy. This may include, place of employment, times most often home, vehicles driven, date of birth, telephone numbers or anything that may be of assistance.
When the Sheriff’s Office receives a Forcible Entry and Detainer, (sometimes referred to as an F.E. & D.) a Deputy Sheriff will go to the address provided and attempt service and continue as stated above except the F.E. & D. must be served three days prior to the court date, not to include the day of service or the day of court. This means we have a very small window to attempt service and depending on the day we receive the document, the day of the week and the day of court, sometimes the Sheriff’s Office is only given a matter of hours to try and locate the defendants.
When an F.E. & D. has not been served after diligent search and the time has expired, the Civil Division Sergeant will attempt to contact the Plaintiff as a courtesy to inform of the status. Therefore when requesting service the Plaintiff must provide a phone number where they may be contacted or receive messages. The Plaintiff will be told to proceed with “posting.” The Plaintiff needs to notify the Clerk of Court’s Office of “posting.” The Plaintiff should mail one copy; certify mail a second copy and “post” a third copy of an updated F.E. & D. to the address.
When the Sheriff’s Office receives a Writ of Removal / Ejection / Possession, it may be the same day the Plaintiff filed for the Writ or it may be several days later depending on the workload of the Clerk of Court’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. The Civil Division Sergeant will attempt to contact the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff must provide a phone number where they may be contacted. The Sheriff’s Office often receives multiple Writs at the same time and the first Plaintiff to answer the phone will have a date and time set up to execute (serve) the Writ. If the Plaintiff’s phone goes unanswered, the Sergeant will call the next Plaintiff from the pile of Writs waiting to be set up. The Sergeant will continue to call all the Plaintiffs until they are all set up. If a Plaintiff has not heard from the Sheriff’s Office after a few days from filing the Writ, they should contact the Sheriff’s Office Civil Division Sergeant.
After the Writ (eviction) is set up a Deputy Sheriff will go to the address provided and attempt contact with the defendants. A copy of the Writ with a Notice from the Sheriff’s Office will be given to the defendants. The Notice will inform of the need to vacate the premises and the date the Writ will be executed. If the defendants refuse to answer the door or if there is simply no response, the Writ and Notice will be posted. This is referred to as the courtesy notice.
If the Civil Division Sergeant has been unable to contact the Plaintiff and a few days has gone by since receiving the Writ. A similar posting will occur without a date of execution provided, informing the defendants of the need to vacate.
When Deputy Sheriff’s meet with the Plaintiff or the agents of the Plaintiff at the address to execute the Writ, it is important that both Plaintiffs and Defendants know the Sheriff’s Office can not and will not, “take sides” or favor one over the other. The Sheriff’s Office must enforce the intent of the court and if the court’s Writ directs the Sheriff’s Office to remove the Defendants and the Defendant’s property, the Sheriff’s Office is there to make that happen without bias or judgment.
The Sheriff’s Office can not give legal advice or information related to the legal steps required to cause an eviction to happen or to have an eviction stopped. The Plaintiffs and the Defendants need to seek legal council for information related to this and any other court action.
If the Plaintiff has begun the eviction in anyway before Deputy Sheriff’s arrival, the Sheriff’s Office must conclude the physical property has been returned to the Plaintiff and the Deputy will not be a part of the process and the Writ will not be executed.
The Sheriff’s Office is there to keep the peace and to insure the Writ’s execution is in compliance with the law.
The Sheriff’s Office is not there to physically remove the personal property from the residence. The Plaintiff is responsible to provide whatever labor is needed to remove the personal property to the city or county “right of way” without causing damage to the personal property and within a reasonable amount of time. One hour is a reasonable amount of time in most cases. The Plaintiff would be wise to have gloves for the people doing the work and provide boxes and / or plastic bags to assist in collecting items that need to be carried out. The Plaintiff is also responsible to provide any tools needed to remove doors or dismantle some items that can not be removed any other way and carts or dollies for appliances, etc... Regarding abandoned pets in an eviction; abandoned pets must be humanely removed from the premises for the eviction to proceed and costs for the removal, if necessary, are the responsibility of the landlord.
Waterloo Animal Control Services have contracts with Waterloo and Cedar Falls and if requested currently charge a fee of $25 for the removal of each pet and an additional $25 fee when turning the pet over to the Cedar Bend Humane Society for a total cost of $50 per pet that must be paid in cash at the time of the removal.
If the landlord elects to remove the pet(s) themselves they must provide documentation, in the form of a receipt, that the pet was turned over to the CBHS to this office or animal control.
Removal of pets occurring outside Waterloo/Cedar Falls city limits are under the jurisdiction of the CBHS and similar fees apply.
By placing the personal property on the “right of way” the personal property is removed from the physical property and the Plaintiff is no longer responsible for the personal property. Anything that could be considered dangerous may not be placed onto the “right of way.” Anything dangerous could include medication, chemicals, paint, knives, broken glass or anything that a reasonable person would consider a hazard to children, etc… The personal property belongs to the Defendants and the Defendants are responsible for their own things. No one has permission or the authority to take the property of another. The Sheriff’s Office or the Plaintiff is not responsible for the personal property after it has been placed onto the “right of way.”
The Defendants should remove their personal property from the “right of way” as soon as possible and they are not allowed to return to any part of the physical property they have been removed from by order of the court without permission from the Plaintiff. The longer the personal property remains the more likely the property will be damaged or stolen. The personal property should be left on the “right of way” for 24 hours to allow the Defendants the opportunity to obtain their things. 24 hours later any personal property remaining on the “right of way” is considered abandoned and must be removed. The Plaintiff is responsible for the removal.
The Eviction Process in .pdf Format (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in order to view this document.)