How Do I Throw Someone Out of My House?

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Ever had the house guest you just cannot get to leave? Maybe someone you thought you could share a relationship with and things did not work out, or a friend or family member who just cramps your lifestyle, eats your food, and does not contribute to the bills? Whatever the case may be, getting someone out who has overstayed their welcome can sometime be a very difficult task. So, how do you throw someone out of your house?

First, it is important to note that this is about getting rid of someone who lives in the same residence as you. If your problem is with a squatter in another property or a tenant you want to evict, the process will be a little different (and handled in another article). This advice also does not apply to a person who is on your lease with you as a roommate. No, this article is about that good deed gone wrong: the house guest that will not leave.

First, you need to find out if the person has started receiving mail at your address. If they have, the police will be less likely to get involved, since the person has officially made the home their residence. If they have not, it may be as simple a matter as asking the person to leave and, if they refuse, to have the police escort them out of the property as a trespasser. Of course, before you call the police, you should discuss the matter with the unwelcome house guest and ask them to leave, involving the police only if the interloper refuses to depart.

Of course, sometimes the police do not like to get involved in such matters, seeing it more as a lover's quarrel or non-criminal domestic dispute, or the person has established sufficient roots (such as receiving mail at the property) to make it more than a simple matter of a trespasser. If law enforcement cannot or will not solve the problem for you, and the person still refuses to leave, then you may wish to speak to an attorney. The next steps you take may form the basis of a legal action against the overstaying house guest, so it is important to be sure that you take them in compliance with the legal requirements of your jurisdiction.

In most cases, you will want to send a certified letter to the house guest asking them to leave in 30 days. Even though the guest is not formally a tenant, certain principles of landlord-tenant law may apply. Generally, one can give notice of intent to terminate a lease by providing notice at least as many days out as the periodic term of the lease (i.e., if it is a month-to-month lease, you would give a month's notice, or a week-to-week lease would be a week). The law typically defaults to a month's notice if no specific term is included in the lease or, as in the case of the hold-over house guest, there is no lease to begin with. Your notice should comply with any statutory requirements of your jurisdiction regarding termination of lease notices, but if possible, you may want ask the house guest to tell you where you should deposit their belongings should they fail to vacate by the date specified and indicate where you will put the should they fail to respond.

This course of action does have some risk, however. The guest could assert that you wrongfully ousted them and may seek damages to their belongings if they go missing or are harmed after you put them out of the house. If you are concerned about such liability, you may want to go all the way through a tenant eviction. This will obviously be much more costly, but should afford you greater protection from liability. Again, if you decide to take this approach, it may be advisable to hire an experienced landlord-tenant attorney to help you with your case.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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