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To annul, set aside, or render void; to surrender possession or occupancy.

The term vacate has two common usages in the law. With respect to real property, to vacate the premises means to give up possession of the property and leave the area totally devoid of contents. To vacate a court order or judgment means to cancel it or render it null and void.

A person may vacate property voluntarily or involuntarily through the issuance of an eviction order by a court. Rental and lease agreements usually contain a provision concerning when and how the tenant is to vacate the premises at the end of the lease period. Many landlords require renters to make damage deposits, which are refunded after the tenant vacates the property if the landlord determines that no serious damage has been done and that the renter has not left behind Personal Property that must be disposed of by the landlord. Otherwise, the landlord may keep all or a portion of the deposit.

The other common legal usage of vacate refers to the canceling or rescinding of court judgments and orders. State and federal rules of Civil Procedure give courts the authority to modify prior judgments. A judgment is the definitive act in a lawsuit that puts an end to the litigation by specifically granting or denying the relief requested by the parties. Once a judgment granting relief has been entered, the plaintiff may legally collect the damages awarded by the court.

A motion to vacate a judgment must be based on a substantial issue. Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a federal court to relieve a party from an adverse judgment on various grounds including Fraud, mistake, newly discovered evidence, and satisfaction of the judgment.

Another common ground for seeking a motion to vacate is the failure to provide the person against whom the judgment is entered with sufficient notice of the action. If, for example, the plaintiff claims that after making a Good Faith effort, he cannot locate the defendant to serve notice of the pending action, the court may permit service by publication in a newspaper. On the day of the hearing, if the defendant does not appear, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff. However, if the defendant discovers the judgment has been filed, she can make a motion to vacate. The defendant might argue that the plaintiff could have easily served the papers personally and given the defendant the opportunity to appear in court and argue the merits of the case.

Courts are generally reluctant to grant a motion to vacate a judgment, especially on the ground of newly discovered evidence. A court will not grant a motion to vacate where the complaining litigant failed to exercise due diligence in securing the evidence in sufficient time to offer it in the original lawsuit. Some jurisdictions do not allow any judgments to be vacated due to newly discovered evidence.


Landlord and Tenant.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


v. 1) for a judge to set aside or annul an order or judgment which he/she finds was improper. 2) to move out of real estate and cease occupancy.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


to cancel or rescind, make void or of no effect.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

TO VACATE. To annul, to render an act void; as to vacate an entry which has been made on a record when the court has been imposed upon by fraud, or taken by surprise.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
- In this case, the counting of the 30 days of grace period for the vacating of the premises referred to in paragraph two of this Article shall commence from the date the employer deposits the value of expenses and entitlements determined by the Labour Departments concerned.
Many of the decisions after Holloway have questioned the authority federal courts have to order the Department of Justice to consider vacating convictions.
The judge directed the supermarket to pay all outstanding balance and any payments accrued to the landlord at the date of vacating the business premises.
Interior Ministry to convince the police high ups for vacating building in residential area (sector F-7) where CPO Islamabad is situated.
Manjhi has put a precondition for vacating the spacious bungalow to enable Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to move in there.
Part IV considers the propriety of citing vacated opinions for propositions that were repudiated by the vacating court.
American forces had burnt all redundant and useless equipment before vacating the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan.
"We are vacating the plant premises under compulsion as police have threatened action but we will continue to be on strike outside the plant," SPI Employees Union President Sube Singh Yadav said, according to reports.
Witco made the decision to vacate 290,000 SF at the complex while Walter Karl announced it would be vacating its 70,000 SF.
"In vacating last month's `additional guidance' on its own motion, without even waiting for reconsideration petitions to be filed, this supposedly independent agency has capitulated to an organized campaign of distortion and demagoguery."
'I have read the news about this (vacating a parliamentary seat) but there has been no discussion at the party's top leadership level,' she said to reporters at the wedding reception of her eldest son in Ampang today.
The authority requested assistance from the people to counter any unpleasant situation or probable resistance during the process of vacating the suites.