How to evict a roommate that is not on the lease?

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How to evict a roommate that is not on the lease?

I need to get rid of my roommate. I never put him on the lease and he hasn’t paid a dime in the 5 months I’ve allowed him to stay with me. I could totally get evicted for having a roommate not on my lease but I live in a ghetto trailer park, so the landlords are pretty lax. I’m hoping to get him out ASAP, as in sooner than 30 days. My general hope is that he has absolutely no right to be here and I can tell him to get out at my leisure and I’d be in the right.

Asked on December 13, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From the sounds of things this roommate either paid rent at some point or was supposed to. In such a case, they are more than guest, they are in fact, a "subtenant" and that makes you the "sub-landlord"). Accordingly, since you have the legal right to occupy the premises, you can file an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction proceeding) in court. You will have to comply with all legal requirements in order to get this roommate legally removed. This starts with giving them written notice (and typically this means 30 days). If he fails to vacate by the date specified in the notice, that's when you will then file your unlawful detainer. When 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, etc. You could be sued if you do. What you can do now is to contact a tenant's right group or attorney who specializes landlord-tenant cases. They can best advise of the correct way in which to go about this.

Note:  If this roommate is an "official" tenant, the only way to have him legally removed from the premises is to have your landlord file for the unlawful detainer action. 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. In addition to being on the lease, he may have achieved the status of a tenant if your landlord accepted rent from him directly.  Also, if the landlord put (or allowed him to put) his name on the mailbox/doorbell, and/or if he rented the place together with you and it was clear that you were both on equal footing. 


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