You may have come to the situation where you ask yourself the question of how to evict someone who is not on the lease.
Maybe a landlord will never have to deal with this type of situation if there is a contract, but there is a way to proceed correctly, according to the law, even without a lease.
A tenant without a lease is a tenant at will an even with no signed document, they have some legal protections.
There are some circumstances that may lead to eviction, such as:
Lawful reasons to evict someone
- 1 Confirm there is not a lease document to evict someone
- 2 Review the state law
- 3 Find a lawyer
- 4 File a court petition
- 5 Go to the hearing
- 6 Concrete the eviction by removing the tenant
- 7 Change the locks and check for damages
- Property damage
- Expiration of lease
- Illicit drug use
- Nonpayment of the rent
- Nonpayment of the required utility
- Healthy and safety violations
- Unallowed pets
- Removing property from the rental market
- Owner moving into the property
- Discrimination (racial, religious, familial or otherwise)
- Withholding rent until the rent issue is resolved
- Retaliation for complaints suits made by the tenants
- The landlord tries to evict someone without a court order
Having checked a lawful reason for eviction, follow the next steps to do it correctly.
Confirm there is not a lease document to evict someone
Make sure that indeed there is not a contractual agreement and you forgot about it.
Keep in mind that you might have made a contract through an email because this can serve as a legal document even though is an informal type of contract.
If the agreement was made orally, it is still considered a tenant at will.
Review the state law
It’s key to review the state law to do the eviction legally because even without a contract, in some states you must provide notice in writing.
The law will give you guidance on how to do it and what kind of language to use and the requirements to follow to the letter because a tenant might try to fight the eviction if you do not proceed correctly.
If you want an example, click here for guidance to evict someone on the state of Maine https://ptla.org/rights-maine-renters-eviction
Find a lawyer
An attorney can help you with legal questions on how to do the eviction. The lawyer can assist you to write the notice according to the state law. Also, the attorney can file a petition for eviction with the court.
To find the lawyer, you can get in contact with the state bar association that are private attorneys.
On the state law will be specified how long you will give to the tenant to leave the property. The notice can be from 7 days up to 30 days.
In some states when you give 30 days’ notice, you don’t have to give a reason for the eviction, but when the notice is for 7 days, you do have to.
There are cases when the tenant hasn’t pay the rent, for those kinds of cases, the notice will be for 14 days.
Keep in mind that you should make copies of the eviction notice to have proof and some record. After you do, serve the notice in person and also check the state law to know the proper way to do it and the methods of service, this way you avoid that the Notice to Quit becomes ineffective.
There are some generalities to take into account
- If you mail the notice to the tenant, use first class mail
- Leave notice with the tenant spouse
- Personally, serve the tenant
Do not use force to take the tenant out of the property.
Even if there isn’t a contract and the tenant did not pay attention to the eviction notice, you cannot forcibly remove the tenant out of the property. The way to do it is to get a court order and for that, you should gather a file for an eviction lawsuit.
Another mistake that you have to avoid is to lock the tenant out of the property and do not change the locks because you could get fined for doing so.
Do not turn off the utilities either. Instead, gather evidence of the reason you want to evict him or her and the copy of the eviction notice you have delivered.
File a court petition
Go to the nearest courthouse and ask the court clerk for the form that you will have to fill our to get your tenant evicted.
Pay the fee for the form. The amount will depend on state law.
Serve the notice to the tenant, for that you can use a private service that can cost $45 up to $75, a sheriff’s fee is similar.
Have in the regard that the eviction the lawsuit eviction (summons) has to be delivered by someone who is 18 or older and has no links to the case.
Go to the hearing
When the tenant wants to fight the eviction, the procedure is to go to a court hearing in front of a judge. Even though there is not much of a case to fight an eviction without a document of the rental agreement, the tenant can argue that the landlord wants to do the eviction, motivated by discrimination reasons or retaliation.
Each (Tenant and landlord) should present the evidence to back the case.
Concrete the eviction by removing the tenant
Although you cannot remove a tenant yourself, there is a procedure to follow.
Bring the order to the sheriff
After the hearing, it’s over and if the ruling is in your favor, the court clerk should give you an order to bring to the sheriff.
The sheriff is going to be the one to notify the tenant of the date on which law enforcement will go to the property for the eviction.
Avoid trying to evict the tenant yourself. Law enforcement will handle it.
Change the locks and check for damages
When the eviction is finalized you should change the locks in case the tenant made copies, but the only after of the eviction.
Also do a check up to the property for damages, in case on major damage and did not have an deposit agreement with the tenant, you can file for a sue, only if you know for a fact that the tenant can honor the payment, if not, it will be a waste of time and money.
Co-founder of AllAboutCareers, one of the top sites for graduates, students and school leavers websites. I studied at the University of Essex. This is my site I talk about finance and help with administrative processes in the USA.