Check your lease and determine your rights and responsibilities. Before you do anything, you need to take a really good look at your lease. Study it carefully and determine what your rights are. Terms for eviction will always be laid out in the lease. Depending on your position as a tenant or as landlord, you will have different resources and options. Consider:
If you’re the landlord and your roommate is a tenant, you are in a much better situation than if you were not the landlord.
If you’re both co-tenants, your roommates’ violations of the lease might also put you in jeopardy of being evicted.
If your roommate is not on the lease and you allowed them to move in without permission form the landlord, your situation is a bit more precarious.
If you’re not on the lease and your roommate is, you probably have little recourse to have someone evicted.
Determine cause for evicting your roommate. Often times, you can’t just evict a roommate because you don’t like the person anymore. You have to actually have a legal cause that is covered in the lease agreement that the person signed. If there was no lease agreement, then you need to have sufficient legal cause to evict the person. Causes might include:
Your roommate is no longer paying rent under the terms of the lease.
Your roommate has been engaging in illegal activities at your home. This could include drugs or violence.
Your roommate has caused damage to your home and has not taken action to fix it.
Your roommate has broken other terms spelled out in the lease agreement and has taken no action to fix the problem.
Talk to your roommate. After you’ve taken a good look at your lease and know you’re position, you should talk to your roommate about him or her leaving. Most rational people will respond to this approach and leave, if they can. If you initiate eviction without talking to your roommate first, you’ll likely upset them and they might dig in just to spite you.
Ask your roommate to talk. At an opportune and calm moment tell them you have "something serious to talk about."
Instead of telling them you'd like them to get leave, explain to them your feelings and your position. Tell them that whatever they've done or is doing has put you in an "uncomfortable position" and that you are unhappy.
Avoid accusations and talk in terms of your feelings. Never make unsubstantiated charges.
Be polite and do not insult them. Tell them you'd really appreciate it if they would respect your position and help you remedy the situation. And explain to them that them vacating would be better for both of you. Talk in terms of a "mutual benefit."
Communicate with the landlord, if you have no ownership interest in the property. If you don’t own the property, you need to initiate communication with the landlord as soon as you decide to take action against your roommate. As the other important legal entity on the lease, your landlord has the right to initiate eviction if your roommate has violated the terms of the lease contract.
Check local and state tenant laws. Before you take any action to actually physically remove your roommate from the property, you need to consult your local and state laws regarding tenant rights. Many localities have laws that give substantial rights to tenants and to people residing in properties they do not own. If you violate these laws, you may give your roommate more leverage against you in your effort to evict them.
Tenant laws vary with each state. Your local courts will have information on the specific steps that must be taken to evict your roommate.
Some cities and states are much more sympathetic to tenants than others. If you’re in one of these jurisdictions, you’ll have a much harder time evicting your roommate.
Gather evidence about your roommate’s activities. In order to aid your eviction effort, you should gather any information or evidence you can about what your roommate has done to warrant his or her eviction. If your roommate is doing something illegal or dangerous in the home, document it. If your roommate has failed to pay rent or contribute to utilities, make sure to save receipts and record any amounts that they have not paid.
Don’t violate your roommate’s personal space while gathering evidence.
Don’t spy on your roommate or violate their personal privacy.
Avoid any activities that might induce your roommate to exhibit violent behavior.
Hire a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer might be your best recourse if you’ve talked to your roommate about leaving and he or she still refuses to leave. A lawyer will take the stress off of you and make sure that your effort to free yourself of an unwanted roommate is legal and goes as smoothly as possible.
You can choose to pursue legal routes to eviction on your own, but it might be time consuming.
The cost of hiring a lawyer might be prohibitive, so shop around.
If you choose not to hire a lawyer to take over the eviction process, you might want to do a 1-time consultation with a lawyer so they can educate you about what you need to do to.
Draft an eviction letter, if you’ve chosen to go through with the eviction on your own. Put together an eviction letter to formally give notice to your roommate to vacate the property. This letter will serve as a legal and official representation of your intent. There are several things your eviction notice must say:
It should include the grounds for eviction and specific lease violations.
It should outline the amount of time your roommate has to leave. This is typically 30 days depending on the laws of your city or state.
The eviction notice must include your name and the roommate's name.
The eviction notice must include the address of the home and a room description he or she used (i.e. "2nd bedroom on right, 2nd floor").
It should include the date the notice was given and the date the roommate is to be out of the house.
Serve your roommate with the eviction notice. As landlord, you’ll now have to serve your roommate with the eviction notice. This means you’ll present the eviction notice to them. Depending on the local laws, you can do this in several ways. They might include:
Hand the notice to your roommate.
Post the notice on your front door or on your roommate’s door.
Send your roommate the notice via certified mail.
Some states may require hand delivery of the eviction notice and that you get a written acknowledgment that the roommate has received it. Check your local jurisdictions before serving the notice.
Depending on your state or local laws, even people who are not landlords have the right to serve an eviction notice.
Go before a judge, if your roommate refuses to vacate. After you’ve served your roommate with an eviction notice and they have not chosen to leave, you’ll wind up in front of a judge. Here the judge will review your lease, hear your complaint, and listen to your roommate’s side of the story. The judge will then make a decision and rule in favor of you or your roommate.
In court, you might have the opportunity to present the evidence you gathered about your roommate's lease violation.
Very often judges decide in favor of the landlord or owner, if they have cause.
Following the law, documenting your case, and doing everything properly will greatly increase your chance of a happy outcome in court.
Judges will often provide a certain amount of “reasonable” time for a tenant to vacate after being evicted.
Call the police to enforce the eviction. After you’ve served your roommate with an eviction notice and a judge has ordered your roommate to leave and they’ve still refused, you’ll have to call the police to enforce the eviction.
Do not try to physically remove your roommate on your own.
Oftentimes, people usually have 72 hours after a court ruling to vacate the premises.
It might be best to avoid your roommate or at the very least avoid prolonged conversations after a judgement is given by the court.
Monitor your roommate as they’re leaving. Although you might think you’ve won this whole process, it’s not over until your roommate is gone and you’ve changed the locks. Horrible things can happen in the 72 hour period between a court ordered eviction and the time the person is compelled to leave by law enforcement (unless they leave on their own accord). Your roommate could:
Damage your home.
Take your personal property.
Try to slander you to your neighbors.
Allow them the allotted time to move out. After you’ve done everything you can to get your roommate evicted legally, you need to also give them the allotted time to vacate the premises. In most situations, someone who is evicted has a certain amount of time to gather their belongings and leave the property on their own accord. Consider:
In many places, people have 72 hours after eviction to leave the property.
If you compel the person to move without allowing them their allotted time, you may open yourself up to a lawsuit.
The time a person has to leave after formally being evicted will be outlined by local or state laws or the presiding judge in the case.
Do not overstep your authority as a roommate or landlord. All tenants of a residence, whether they are on the lease or are not, are afforded some rights. Most jurisdictions protect people from being thrown out of their residence or being denied use of their residence without proper review by the judicial system. In many cases there are a number of things you should not do:
Don’t change the locks. While it might seem like a good idea to simply change the locks, there is a good chance that this will be interpreted by the law as an illegal activity.
Don’t mess with their stuff. You might be tempted to just throw all of your roommate’s stuff into the street. Don’t do this. It’s illegal in many jurisdictions.
Don’t turn off the utilities. You may want to try to force them out by turning the power and water off. In many jurisdictions this is illegal.
If you are in doubt about what you should not do, consult local laws and regulations and/or call an attorney.
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