How To Evict Someone From Your House Without A Lease

Learn how to evict someone from your house without a lease and avoid the costly mistakes landlords, homeowners, and roommates often make.

Has your guest overstayed their welcome and refused to leave? Is your (off-lease) roommate refusing to contribute to the rent or causing problems? Did you verbally agree a rental with a tenant without signing a lease?

Find out how to remove your guest or tenant without breaking the law.

Do You Need To Follow Eviction Law When There’s No Lease?

Do You Need To Follow Eviction Law When There’s No Lease?

Can you kick someone out of your house if they are not on the lease? Yes. As long as you follow the correct legal procedure in your state, you can remove an occupant from your house.

While you might feel within your rights to dump your tenant’s possessions on the curb and change the locks, kicking someone out of your house who is not on the lease isn’t that easy, and will probably be illegal.

Even though the unwanted occupant doesn’t have a formal lease, they may have established tenant’s rights under an at-will tenancy.

If you kick someone out who has gained tenancy rights, you would be breaking the law. Self-help evictions are illegal in all states and a judgment for an unlawful eviction can be very costly.

You can’t:

  • Remove a tenant by force
  • Remove a tenant’s possessions
  • Change the locks
  • Turn off utilities
  • Harass them to make them leave

How Are Tenancy Rights Established?

The rules on whether an occupant without a lease has established tenancy rights vary from state to state.

Each state has specific conditions under which a tenancy is created even though no written lease exists.

For example:

  • A lease can be a verbal agreement
  • Your guest agrees to give you money to stay (even if they’re just sleeping on your couch)
  • Your guest agrees to contribute towards bills
  • Your guest exchanges work for a place to stay
  • Your guest’s stay at your house exceeds a certain period (e.g. 14 days or 30 days)

When tenancy rights are established, the tenancy is an at-will, month-to-month tenancy. The tenant has the right to stay in the property with the lease automatically renewing each month unless you take steps to evict them.

If a guest has established tenancy rights you must follow the lawful eviction process in your state even though no written lease exists. You can’t kick them out.

If a guest hasn’t established tenancy rights and refuses to leave your property, you’ll need to contact your local police department and press charges for trespassing.

How to Write An Eviction Notice Without Lease

How to Write An Eviction Notice Without Lease

Whether you’re trying to remove a guest who has gained tenancy rights, or you need to end a verbal tenancy agreement, you must follow the legal procedure in your state.

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand the difference between an eviction and a lease termination.

An eviction is a legal procedure involving the court. A lease termination is a non-court-ordered procedure used to end a lease agreement.

The first step in the lease termination process is issuing a notice to vacate (also called a notice to quit or lease termination notice). A notice to vacate informs the tenant that they must leave the property by a certain date.

Your state law will specify the notification period, but 30 days’ notice is fairly standard.

Remember, even though you never signed a lease with your tenant (or guest turned tenant), once tenancy rights are established, a month-to-month lease does exist.

The notice to vacate should include:

  • Your name, address, phone number, and email
  • Tenant’s name and address
  • Date of notice
  • Latest date to vacate the property
  • When a property inspection will occur (if applicable)
  • When any security deposit will be returned (if applicable)
  • The reason for the notice to vacate
  • Intent to take legal action if the notice is ignored

Search online to get a free notice to vacate template you can download and use.

Deliver the notice to vacate to the tenant. If the person concerned is living in your home, you can simply hand the notice to them, preferably with a witness present, or you can mail it to them at your address.

If you’re issuing a notice to vacate to a tenant in your rental property, send the notice by certified mail so there’s a record of receipt.

How To Legally Evict Tenant Without Lease

How To Legally Evict Tenant Without Lease

If the tenant doesn’t vacate the property by the date specified on the notice to vacate, you’ll need to file for an eviction hearing at your local courthouse. (You may be able to file your case online if your court offers that facility).

Once you’ve filed your case, the court will set a date for the hearing.

At the hearing, you’ll need to state the reason for the eviction and explain that you don’t have a lease agreement with the tenant.

The tenant, if they attend the hearing, will have the opportunity to explain why they should be allowed to remain in the property.

If the court finds in your favor, they’ll issue an eviction order. The eviction order may give the tenant a few weeks to move out.

If the tenant refuses to move out, you should ask your local sheriff to carry out the eviction.

Be aware that the eviction order doesn’t allow you to enforce the eviction yourself and kick your tenant out. The eviction must be carried out by a law enforcement officer.

How Long Does An Eviction Without Lease Take?

You can’t begin an eviction until you’ve issued a notice to vacate and the move-out date has passed. In the best-case scenario, the tenant will move out on time and you won’t need to go ahead with an eviction.

Once you file for an eviction hearing, you’re at the mercy of the court’s timetable.

Further delays are possible if the tenant declares bankruptcy, files a motion for more time, or appeals the eviction ruling.

Straightforward evictions can take a few weeks, while more complicated situations can take more than a year to resolve.

What Are My Rights As A Tenant Without A Lease?

What Are My Rights As A Tenant Without A Lease?

If you’re paying rent, or you’ve established tenancy rights in some other way, and you’re asked to move out, you’re probably wondering if you have any rights without a lease.

The good news is your rights are the same as a tenant with a lease if your occupancy meets the definition of a tenancy in your state.

You’ll be deemed to have an at-will tenancy with a month-to-month lease instead of a fixed tenancy lasting for a specified period.

If your landlord asks you to move out, they need to follow the correct procedure and give you formal notice to vacate the property.

Because you have a month-to-month lease, your landlord doesn’t need a reason to ask you to leave. They only need to issue a notice to vacate. If you don’t leave by the specified date, the landlord can begin the eviction process.

An eviction is a legal process decided by the court. If the court orders an eviction, you may encounter problems when you apply for other rentals because the eviction will be reported on your background check.

What’s Next?

  1. Look up the rules for your state to find out if an at-will tenancy has been created.
  2. Issue a formal notice to vacate the property.
  3. File for an eviction hearing if the tenant refuses to move out.

To make sure you’re following the law when evicting someone from your house without a lease, it’s a good idea to get advice from a lawyer.

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