How do I get rid of a tenant who does not have a lease?

My brother let his wife’s nephew live in our mom’s home after she passed away. There was not a lease. We have now sold the home and the nephew refuses to leave. What is our recourse?

Asked on October 9, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If he paid rent then he was a tenant; if not then he was a "licensee" (i.e. long term guest). In either event, at this point you will have to evict him as a "holdover tenant". This will require serving him proper notice (the time will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; it can range from 3 -30 days). If he remains after the date specified given for him to leave, then you will have to file an "unlawful detainer" action in court (i.e. eviction lawsuit). Once the court issues an order to vacate, if he still remains you can have the sheriff come and forcibly remove him if necessary.

In the meantime, do not attempt to change the locks, remove his belongings or the like. If you attempt any of the self-help remedies you may find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit for illegal eviction.


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