There aren’t many more uncomfortable scenarios than asking a family member to leave your home. Some homeowners end up having guests who refuse to leave and are disruptive to their home. Sometimes they even turn out to be family members who were invited to stay or move in long-term. When things turn sour with the person renting your home, or a guest refuses to leave, an eviction is your last option.
However, the process can get complicated if you are trying to evict someone who is a family member. Here are some tips to navigate the situation.
What is an Eviction?
An eviction is a legal process in which a landlord forces a tenant to leave a property. Typically, the tenant isn’t paying rent, or is making partial payments, or someone who isn’t abiding by the rental agreement or the terms of the lease.
Is The Relative Living with you a Tenant, or a Guest, or Neither
Different laws apply to how you classify someone who lives in your house. They can be classified either as a tenant, or a guest according to the law. It is crucial to understand your local landlord-tenant laws and laws surrounding tenant rights. In some locations, your relative is considered a tenants when they pay to rent the space. In other locations, a tenant is someone who occupies your space without any exchange of money.
Some states consider long-term guests or family members to be licensees. According to state law, a licensee is a person who lives in your home for a long time. Some states allow the person to be asked to leave and take his belongings without any legal action, provided that rent was not exchanged.
You must first determine how your state categorizes unwelcome guests if you want to expel them from your home. You will need to evict them if they are considered tenants or licensees.
Action to Take Before the Eviction Process
Before taking legal action of any kind or hiring a lawyer, it’s often fast and easy to simply have a conversation before any eviction proceedings.
One example would be to sit down with the person and have a conversation. It’s best to have a conversation with the guest in a neutral place. Start by asking questions and showing concern for the person. Try and gather some information about their situation. If they feel you care about them, they may be more likely to agree to leave the home. Maintain eye contact and explain to them why they need to leave.
How to Evict a Family Member
An official eviction can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
There is no one way to evict a tenant. Different cities and states have their own procedures and timelines. The process of evicting a relative, aside from the emotional burden, can be costly.
This is generally what you should do in order to expel someone.
You must serve your tenant with a notice to vacate. This should state when and why he must leave. Most places require that he vacate within three to thirty days (in accordance with your local laws). Make sure to be specific and specify what the tenant must do and when. An attorney can help make this process more smooth.
There are a few ways to serve a tenant:
- The server can give the complaint to the guest in person.
- If the tenant is not around, the server can give the complaint to any member of the household.
- If given permission by the court, the complaint can be mailed. The complaint can also be posted at the property.
You must file an eviction petition with your local courts if your tenant does not leave within the time limit. Some places have housing courts. Others hear eviction cases at county courts. In these hearings, a judge will listen to your reasons and check your notice to vacate. If the judge rules in your favor, he will issue an eviction order, and a writ of possession which gives your property back.
If your tenant refuses to move, or if he is in violation of a court order, you can contact law enforcement to have him removed. (Note: This could make your family gatherings more awkward.)
Some states have laws or practices that benefit the interest of landlords over tenants, and this can affect the procedures and timing of processes in your area.
Consult a lawyer.
The first thing to do is to consult a local attorney who specializes in tenant and landlord law. Local and state laws are very important in regulating evictions. An attorney in your local area will be able to tell you what type of notice you need, which documents you need, and what checks you should not cash.
Do not accept rent: It is best not to take rent. It will give your tenant more rights.
Steps to Take Before Allowing a Family Member to Move in
It’s important to write the agreement down. If you allow someone to live in your home for more than a few weeks, it is a good idea. Write down what you expect from your family member who is coming to stay with you. Make sure you spell out any rules that your guest may be violating when he uses recreational drugs. If your tenant violates these rules, allow him sufficient time to search for a new home.
It’s worth trying: Sometimes, paying someone to leave might be cheaper than trying to evict them. This process (commonly referred to as cash for keys) gives your tenant funds to find a new place to live and eliminates the need for a costly eviction process.
Eviction filing fees can be expensive, and a distraught tenant may cause damage to the home. Filing fees can vary by state, but can be hundreds with an additional fee for the write of execution.
If you hire an attorney, this may cost anywhere between $500-$10,000.
A family vacation may cost you less than an eviction. Paying them to leave may foster a closer relationship between your relative and you once he has moved on to a happier life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the rights of the person being evicted?
The person being evicted has the right to a fair and impartial hearing. They also have the right to be represented by an attorney, and to have the eviction order reviewed by a judge.
Are there any other options besides eviction?
There are some alternatives to eviction. If the tenant has not paid rent, the landlord may give them a notice to pay. This notice gives the tenant a specific amount of time to pay the rent or move out. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord can then file for eviction.
Note: It is important to remember that an eviction is a legal process specific to your area. This article does not constitute legal advice; consult a lawyer familiar with landlord-tenant law in your area for complete information regarding the process and your tenant’s rights.