How do I remove a tenant that has no written lease with me?

My daughter and her husband live in our basement with no written agreement. We are having problems with her husband and need to them to move out. We have helped them long enough but don’t know how we can get them out with no written lease agreement.

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there is no written lease, then a tenant is deemed to be on a month-to-month lease (i.e. oral lease). Accordingly, they can be evicted just as any other tenant.

The question here is, we they paying rent? If so, then they are tenants; if not then they are "licensees" (i.e. long term guests). In either event, they must be given a notice to vacate (typically 30 days). If they fail to move by the specified date given, at that point the property owner must file an eviction lawsuit called an "unlawful detainer". Once a judge issues a vacate order, if the occupants still remain they can be forcibly removed by a sheriff if necessary.

Note: In the meantime do not change the locks to remove their belongings; you could be sued for unlawful eviction if you do.

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