If there is no written lease, can I evict a tenant?

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How to Evict a Tenant Without Rental Agreement

Three Parts:

A tenant without a rental agreement is called a “tenant at will.”This type of tenant has few legal protections, and landlords can evict if they follow the procedures established by the state. If a landlord has legal questions, then he or she should meet with a lawyer.


Preparing to Evict

  1. Confirm that you have no written lease.Make sure that you didn’t execute a written lease but forget about it. Most state laws provide greater protection to tenants who have rental agreements.
    • Check your emails also to see that you didn’t create a rental agreement through email. An agreement can be informal; it does not need to be an extensive written lease. If you are worried that the tenant might try to object to the eviction, then make sure you didn’t accidentally make promises through email.
    • Even where a tenant has an oral agreement, the tenant is still considered a “tenant at will.”
  2. Read the state law.Your state law spells out the steps you need to take to evict a tenant, even when the tenant has no rental agreement with you. For example, in Maine, a landlord must provide a “Notice to Quit” in writing.
    • State law may also tell you the precise language that you must use when giving notice. For example, if you want to evict someone in Maine because they have not paid their rent, then you need to include the following language:
      • “If you pay the amount of rent due as of the date of this notice before this notice expires, then this notice as it applies to rent arrearage is void. After this notice expires, if you pay all rental arrears, all rent due as of the date of payment and any filing fees and service of process fees actually paid by the landlord before the writ of possession issues at the completion of the eviction process, then your tenancy will be reinstated.”
    • To find your state law, search the Internet for “your state” and “eviction.” Pay attention to the requirements and follow them to the letter. A tenant can successfully dispute an eviction if you do not give sufficient notice or do not include required language.
  3. Meet with a lawyer.If you have legal questions about the eviction, then you should consult with a lawyer. A lawyer can make sure that your Notice to Quit conforms to the requirements of state law. He or she can also help you file a petition for eviction with a court.
    • To find a qualified attorney, you should contact your state bar association. Bar associations are private groups of attorneys. Many of these groups either run attorney referral programs or can point you to county bar associations that run referral programs.

Bringing an Eviction Suit

  1. Give sufficient notice.Your state law will tell you how much notice you must give the tenant. In Maine, you must give the tenant either a 30-day or 7-day “Notice to Quit.” If you give a 30-day notice, then you do not need a reason for the eviction. If you give a 7-day notice, then you will need to state a reason.The eviction cannot occur, however, before the last day for which rent has been paid. Thus, if you accept rent for the month of March, you cannot evict before the last day of March.
    • The amount of time will vary by state. In Texas, for example, you only need to provide three days’ notice, in Kansas, you must provide 30 days, and in Massachusetts, you must provide 30 days (unless if the tenant hasn’t paid their rent, which in that case is 14 days).
  2. Provide notice in writing.You should type up the Notice to Quit and keep a copy for your records. You must also properly serve the notice. Check your state law, which should clarify what are acceptable methods of service. If you fail to serve notice properly, then the Notice to Quit could become ineffective. Generally, you can serve notice in the following ways:
    • personally serve on the tenant
    • leave the notice with the tenant’s spouse
    • mail it to the tenant using first class mail
    • have a sheriff or constable personally deliver the notice
  3. Do not forcibly remove the tenant.You cannot forcibly throw someone out of the apartment, even if there is no rental agreement. Instead, you will need to get permission from a court.You need to prepare to file an eviction lawsuit.
    • You shouldn’t try to lock out the tenant either. Avoid changing the locks or turning off utilities in the hopes of forcing someone out. You could end up being fined if you do so.
    • Gather relevant evidence, such as the date the tenant first moved in, the amount of rent, and the reason why you want to evict him or her.
    • You will also need a copy of your Notice to Quit.
  4. File a petition with the court.You will need to complete a petition to evict the tenant. Your courthouse should have a form for you to fill out.Ask the court clerk for the form.
    • You will probably have to pay a filing fee, which will vary by court.
    • Be sure to serve notice on the tenant.Notice will consist of a copy of the petition and a summons (which you can get from the clerk). Ask the court clerk for acceptable methods of service. Generally, service can be made by someone 18 or older who is not a party to the lawsuit. You may also be able to serve notice by using a private process server or the sheriff.
    • You will probably have to pay a fee if you hire someone to serve notice. For example, a private process server can cost -75.A sheriff’s fee is usually comparable.
  5. Attend a hearing.If the tenant wants to fight the eviction, then you will need to attend a hearing before a judge. As the landlord, you will go first.Explain to the judge the reason for the eviction and when notice was given. Ask the judge if he or she wants to see your copy of the Notice to Quit.
    • The tenant will go next.It is very difficult for a tenant without a rental agreement to successfully dispute an eviction. However, the tenant could argue that you are motivated by discrimination or retaliation.
    • The tenant will need to provide evidence that you discriminated on the basis of a protected characteristic (race, gender, age, etc.) A bald accusation will not be enough.
    • One way to defend yourself against a charge of discrimination is to point out that you allowed the tenant to rent from you in the first place. If you had a problem with his or her age, religion, race, etc., then you would never have rented to them.

Removing the Tenant from the Premises

  1. Take the order to the sheriff.If you win at the hearing, then you should take the judge’s order to the sheriff’s department. The sheriff will then notify the tenant and tell him or her the date on which law enforcement will show up to evict them.
    • You cannot evict the tenant yourself, even after receiving the judge’s order. Instead, you need to let law enforcement handle it.
  2. Change the locks.After the tenant has been evicted, you should change the locks in case the tenant had a copy of the key made. Be sure to wait until the tenant has been evicted before switching the locks.
  3. Check for damage.If the tenant damaged the apartment, then you can bring a suit to recover for the damage. Walk through the apartment and take photographs of any damage. You cannot recover for normal “wear and tear.” Nevertheless, if the tenant cause more serious damage (like a hole in the wall), then you should document it.
    • You will first need to apply the tenant’s security deposit (if there was any) to cover the damage. You can then recover any amount that is not covered by the security deposit.
    • Before suing, however, you should consider whether the tenant has any money in the bank that you could collect.If you evicted the tenant because he or she couldn’t pay rent, then it may not be worth your time to pursue a lawsuit.
    • For information on how to file a small claims case, see File a Case in Small Claims Court.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What should I do if someone moved in without permission?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You need to look up you local squatter's rights laws, then follow the procedures to evict them.
  • Question
    How do I evict a tenant with no lease when they're paid up on rent?
    Naji Boutros
    Community Answer
    No need to evict. Having no lease just means that its a month to month lease and you can terminate that any time you want. First, notify them in writing that they must be moved out within the next 30 days. If they still do not move out, notify them that you will pursue legal action (an eviction) in 3 days. If they are still not out, then you pursue an eviction just like any other rental agreement.
  • Question
    How many days does my landlord have to give me when renting a room in his house before he can evict me?
    Naji Boutros
    Community Answer
    In most states, the minimum is 30 days notice. If you have not moved out once the 30 days are up, he must give you a notice that in 3 days he will pursue legal action if you are still not out. If you are still not moved out, he has to go to the court house and set a court date to have you evicted, where you will likely lose, unless you have a good reason ("nowhere to go" is not a good reason). After the court date, if you are still not out, he can schedule an appointment for the police to come by, remove you from the house and put all your belongings on the sidewalk.
  • Question
    I have an "at will" tenant that has major health problems and lost his job and cannot pay the full rent - how do I evict them?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Check with your local city/county, Clerk of Court, as all jurisdictions are governed by different laws. Ask the Clerk what the current policies and procedures are to initiate the eviction process without a signed rental agreement.
  • Question
    What can I do when the tenant has moved out without taking their property?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You report it to the police. They will make a report and post a notice. Depending on what state you live in, they have a certain amount of days to collect. In Wyoming it's three.
  • Question
    What do I do to evict someone who is living in my apartment with me?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    If the person has a lease with you, you have to honor the lease agreement, and simply do not renew when it is up. If there is no written agreement, give the person a reasonable amount of time to find new accommodations and move out. If the person refuses to leave, what until he/she is out and have the locks changed.
  • Question
    How do I evict my son and his family if we never had a lease or rent agreement, and no rent has ever been collected?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You cannot evict them through the legal system, only make life miserable for them until they move out.
  • Question
    If you are the tenant getting evicted, and you were dating without a lease. What do I do?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It is the same way you evict a tenant on the lease. Fill out the form at a local justice of the peace office and pay about 130 per person on the lease. Judge will set a court date and have tenants served.
  • Question
    Can I have a tenant at will's paycheck garnished for back rent if there is no written lease?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can. Once you receive a judgment on your tenant you can file a writ of garnishment with the courts. Then you take that writ to a collection company and start collecting.
  • Question
    How do I find out how to evict someone with no lease in a particular state?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Google "evict tenant with no lease [your state]" and you should be able to find the information you need. Your local police department would probably have this information as well.
Unanswered Questions
  • Can I evict a tenant if my current tenant wants to move out but already has an agreement?
  • My commercial tenant's insurance lapsed. My loan requires there to be liability insurance. Can I evict them?
  • How long does the whole eviction process take from start to finish?
  • If did not add wife's name in the apartment rental lease, what are her rights?
  • I lodged an FOR you/s 308, 507/34 I.P.C. against my tenants and they are in judicial custody. Their goods are in the rented room. How can a room be vacated legally?
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Date: 03.12.2018, 13:41 / Views: 43335