How to get my brother out of my house?

I have owned my family’s home for 10+ years. When my father passed away my brother lived there; that was 3 years ago. He refuses to pay rent and won’t pay anything for the taxes owed. I want to move into this house but he won’t leave. How can I get him out of there?

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your brother is a "licensee". That is a long-term guest. This means that you will have to treat him the same as a tenant would be treated in such a case. That is, as the rightful and sole owner, you will have to serve him with notice to quit the premises. If he fails to move out by the date specified in the notice then you will have to file an "unlawful detainer" (i.e. eviction lawsuit). Once a judge issues you a writ of possession (or your state's equivalent), if he still fails to leave then you can have a sheriff remove him. 

Just be sure to follow all legal procedures for this, or you can be sued by him for wrongful eviction. So don't be tempted to remove his belongings, change the lock and/or shutoff the utilities. Since this all can get fairly technical, you really should consult directly with an attorney in your area who handles these type cases.

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