Can I evict a roommate who is not on the lease?

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Can I evict a roommate who is not on the lease?

This roommate is not in the lease but has been aggressive towards me and my girlfriend. He pays rent every month but its always a few days late and I have to front the money. I gave him multiple opportunities to sign the paperwork to get on the lease but he failed to do so every time.

Asked on February 5, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Since this roommate is not onn the lease but paid rent, he might be considered as your unofficial tenant or "sub-tenant" (which makes you the "sub-landlord"). Since you have the legal right to occupancy, you can file an "unlawful detainer" action (i.e. an eviction proceeding). This means that you will have to comply with all legal requirements in order to get this guy to leave. First, you must give him written notice (typically 30 days in this situation). If he refused to vacate, then you'll have to file suit in court. If it is granted, he will either have to leave the premises by the specified date or the sheriff will remove him. In the meantime do not undertake any "self-help" remedies such as changing the locks, removing his belongings, or the like. You could be sued if you do. That all having been said, if this guy is an "official" tenant, the only way to have him legally removed is to have your landlord file for the unlawful detainer. The fact is that having your roommate's name on a lease is not the only way that he may be considered to be a formal tenant of your landlord. He may have achieved the status of a tenant if your landlord accepted rent durectly from him directly, if the landlord put (or allowed him to put) his name on the mailbox/doorbell, or if he rented the place together with you and it was clear that you were both on equal footing (of course, if you get your landlord involved, you may have your tenancy put in jeopardy if your roommate is illegal). At this point you may want to consult directly with a local attorney who handles landlord-tenant matters.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Since this roommate is not onn the lease but paid rent, he might be considered as your unofficial tenant or "sub-tenant" (which makes you the "sub-landlord"). Since you have the legal right to occupancy, you can file an "unlawful detainer" action (i.e. an eviction proceeding). This means that you will have to comply with all legal requirements in order to get this guy to leave. First, you must give him written notice (typically 30 days in this situation). If he refused to vacate, then you'll have to file suit in court. If it is granted, he will either have to leave the premises by the specified date or the sheriff will remove him. In the meantime do not undertake any "self-help" remedies such as changing the locks, removing his belongings, or the like. You could be sued if you do. That all having been said, if this guy is an "official" tenant, the only way to have him legally removed is to have your landlord file for the unlawful detainer. The fact is that having your roommate's name on a lease is not the only way that he may be considered to be a formal tenant of your landlord. He may have achieved the status of a tenant if your landlord accepted rent durectly from him directly, if the landlord put (or allowed him to put) his name on the mailbox/doorbell, or if he rented the place together with you and it was clear that you were both on equal footing (of course, if you get your landlord involved, you may have your tenancy put in jeopardy if your roommate is illegal). At this point you may want to consult directly with a local attorney who handles landlord-tenant matters.


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