Can a landlord evict a roommate that is not on the lease?

The roommate had an agreement with the actual tenant. Since the tenant had a fight with his girlfriend and is in jail, the landlord wants the roommate to leave right away. The roommate has been living there for 4 months already and is receiving mail there at that address. All of this happened while the roommate was out of town and had nothing to do with what happened. Can the landlord also change the locks on the roommate while he is out of town and if not can the roommate ask the landlord for the key if he did.

Asked on June 24, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have a couple of sub-issues within your question-- which will turn a great deal on the lease agreement.  First, to get anyone to leave the property, the landlord has to file an eviction.  So if there is a person who had been living their for an extended time, then yes, eviction would be the proper avenue-- even if they are not on the lease.  The second part of your question focuses on the fact that the person was not on the lease.  The lease only affects the rights of the parties to the lease.  If a person is on the lease, they are compliant, then a landlord's right to evict is limited to the conditions set out in the contract.  If the person/tenant is not on the lease, they do not get the same contractual protections.  In fact, many lease agreements prohibit tenants from sub-leasing or allowing others to move in without authorization from the landlord.  In this case, if the person was an unauthorized tenant, then the landlord would have a right to evict on that basis-- even if the person was already receiving mail and had otherwise done nothing wrong.

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