Can I legal change the locks and evict someone living in my apartment that was not on the lease?

I had a friend come live with me and my sister but could not get on the lease. We had a verbal agreement that he would pay a certain amount to stay with us. Now 2 months living there we discovered that he had stolen my sister’s credit card and maxed it out. We had decided to change the locks while he was away for the weekend because we felt threaten and unsafe for the fact that he could take more things from us.

Asked on October 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, unfortunately you *can't* do this. A "verbal agreement that he would pay a certain amount to stay with us" means that you were subleasing to him, with an oral sublease; ergo, he was you tenant, and he may only be evicted as a tenant may be. Stealing from the landlord is one ground for eviction; if the lease is oral, you may also evict on 30 days notice; so you can get rid of him, but you *must* do through the courts. If you don't, you could be liable to him, and he could seek a court order forcing you to take him back (as well as seeking monetary compensation).

Other things to do: 1) report the theft to the police and press charges (using a credit card without permission is theft); 2) seek a protective order; 3) sue him for the money he stole; 4) you *may* be able to fast track the eviction based on circumstances.

You should retain an attorney to help you with your several options.

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