Does a long time houseguest have any tenant rights or can they be evicted?

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Does a long time houseguest have any tenant rights or can they be evicted?

Due to a job loss (which was caused by a drug selling felony), my fiance’s 20 year-old son exhausted all other options and moved in with us. It was meant to be very temporary, so he has never paid rent nor did he sign a lease. I’ve told him that he is a guest in my house. Now, 8 months later, the situation has become unbearable. He has begun to verbally abuse me. I want him out but he’s claiming squatters rights. My fiance is a wimp and thinks this will solve itself. Can I have the young man evicted or does he really have rights to stay in my house (deed is soley in my name)?

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If he pays no rent (or food, utitlites,etc) he is not a "tenant" under the law.  Rather, since he were was allowed to live in the premises with permission, he will be considered to be a "licensee".  Either way, you will have to file an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction) to legally remove him from your home.

You now need to give him a written notice to vacate (typically 30 days).  If he does not leave by the date specified, you can then file an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction) in court.  He will then be ordered by the judge to vacate the premises.  If he doesn't, then the sheriff will remove him (forcibly if necessary).

In the meantime do not undertake any "self-help" measures such as changing the locks or removing his personal belongings. If you do you could find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit.  At this point, you should contact a real estate attorney that specializes in landlord/tenant matters. They can best advise as to the correct procedures for all of this. You can also contact the local court to see if they have a pamphlet/website that gives relevant information.


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