Who’s in My House? 3 Steps to Evict a Roommate Not on the Lease

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No one wants to have to resort to the option of evicting someone. However, whether it’s a friend or relative that is not leaving of their own accord, you might need to resort to legal eviction. So, how do you go about kicking out someone who hasn’t signed your apartment lease? We know this is an uncomfortable situation. So, we’ve prepared a handy guide for you that will help you gauge your living situation and how to carry out the necessary eviction. Below, you’ll learn how and when to evict a roommate not on lease, determine what kind of “roommate” they are legally, and actionable steps you can take towards eviction.

Roommate, Guest, Tenant-At Will, or Subtenant?

First of all, you have to determine whether the person(s) you want to evict are roommates, guests, tenants-at-will, or subtenants. Depending on the distinction, there will be separate laws with regard to evicting roommates. These also vary depending on state laws.

Who is a Roommate?

A roommate is someone you share living expenses with, such as rent and utilities. They are named on your rental agreement/lease as co-tenants.

Who is a Guest?

A guest is a person who has been invited into another’s home. They aren’t expected to split rent or utilities.

Who is a Tenant-At-Will?

A tenant-at-will is someone who lives with you in your house, but doesn’t pay rent and doesn’t have a set date on which they must move out or pay rent.

Who is a Subtenant?

A subtenant is someone who rents living space from a tenant who’s already renting the unit from someone else. The tenant and their subtenant will have a written agreement specifying what part(s) of the rental unit they can access and for how long they’ll be renting from the tenant.

Related: The Nice Way to Evict Your Roommate

Evicting a Roommate Based on “Good Cause”

What makes for a compelling case to evict a roommate not on lease?

There are a few reasons which are considered a “good cause” for evicting a roommate:

  1. Damage to the rental unit beyond normal wear and tear.
  2. Engaging in illegal activities within the rental.
  3. Threatening the health or safety of other tenant(s).
  4. Failure to pay rent and utility bills on time.
  5. Repeated breaches of the lease agreement, such as excessive noise.

How to Evict a Roommate Not on Lease?

Now that you have a rough idea of the legal status of your roommate who might be adding to your financial or emotional burden, let’s get down to brass tacks. Below, find out how you can evict a roommate not on lease.

Step 1 – Talk to Your Landlord

The decision to evict a roommate is hard. If you’ve made up your mind, the first action to take is to talk to your landlord. Whether it’s a relative, friend or family member whose name is not on the lease, communicate with your landlord. Inform them about why roommate eviction is the best way forward. If your unwanted guest’s signatures are not on the agreement, then evicting a roommate not on lease won’t be a problem. Your landlord can do this for you.

Warning: If your lease prohibits unauthorized roommates or guests, you run the risk of getting yourself evicted too!

Step 2 – Formal “Notice to Quit”

You must provide them with a formal notice informing them they need to move out of the property. According to your state’s law, you may have to hand the notice to them in person, send it by certified mail, or post it on the door of the apartment.

What is included in the formal notice to evict a roommate?

  • The roommate’s full name, address, and unit number.
  • The specific ways the roommate is causing you distress as mentioned in the section above.
  • How long the tenant has to move out of the rental unit which will be determined by your state’s roommate law.
  • A statement that you will be filing a formal eviction if the behavior isn’t remedied or if the tenant doesn’t voluntarily move out
  • Lastly, the date of the notice and your signature.

TIP: Any communication with your roommate regarding the eviction should be done in writing. And, everyone should sign and date it. Breaking the law by changing locks, removing property, or threatening illegal action is never a good idea.

Step 3 – Deliver an Eviction Notice or Contact Law Enforcement

Depending on the state you live in, there are different methods to evict a roommate not on lease from your property.

  • Deliver an Eviction Notice: Tennessee requires the tenant to file some type of court case under the state’s roommate laws in order to evict a roommate not on lease.
  • Contact Law Enforcement: Some states like Arizona allow you to go directly to law enforcement to have the person removed from your home without opening a court case. If you live in a state where law enforcement is used to remove a person from your property, then you don’t have to do anything else. From here on, they will be in in charge of the eviction process.

However, if you don’t live in a law-enforcement evictions state, you must give the person a written eviction notice before filing your court case. Additionally, you’ll also need to make sure that you’ve properly delivered it to the person you want to remove, or your court case could be dismissed.

Related: Can I Evict A Roommate During COVID In NYC?

Roommate Eviction: Next Steps

In some states, a court hearing is required to remove a person from a rental agreement. In these cases, the person who filed the case must attend the hearing or the case will be dismissed. If your landlord has filed the case on your behalf, it’s still a good idea to attend the hearing. This is in case the court needs more evidence or calls you as a witness. In conclusion, there are a few takeaways from the process – store all evidence in writing, communicate openly, and take legal recourse if necessary to protect yourself.

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