Can I legally move my girlfriend’s stuff out and change the locks?

UPDATED: May 21, 2012

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Can I legally move my girlfriend’s stuff out and change the locks?

I am the sole owner of the house. She started staying here when she lost her job and couldn’t afford her own house. It was supposed to be a “trial” for a few months but has been going on for almost a year. I told her 4 months ago that the relationship is not working, so she said she would be moving but to date she has not done so. What rights do I have? I no longer want her in my house.

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Technically, if you are sole owner, there was no lease, and she was not paying rent, she was a "guest" not a tenant, and you should be able to ask her to leave immediately; if she will not leave, you should be able to call the police to help her, as she will be a trespasser. (Do not simply remove her belongings yourself, or physically try to remove her, since doing so could leave you liable for theft, vandalism, or assault and battery.)

However, that said, the police often refuse to help in cases like this, and want a court to determine her right (or not) to stay, especially if she tries to claim some agreement or right to reside there, or that she has some interest in the home.

So you might start by asking her to leave, and if she doesn't, contacting the police; but if they will not help you, retain an attorney to file an "ejectment" action against her, after which court officers (e.g. constables) will perform the lock out.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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