How to evict a housesitter?

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How to evict a housesitter?

I am a homeowner that has been out of state for work and while away I had a friend house sit. During this period he got married and quickly separated. Family illness is requiring us to return. A date was verbally agreed for her to vacate. She is now requiring a formal eviction notice and another 30 days. They agreed to pay utilities but did not and they are shut off, plus 2 doors were destroyed as she broke in and the house can no longer be secured. Is there any way to get her out without so we can move back when we had planned? I have not met this person and only had an agreement with her husband to watch our house.

Asked on June 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If she was out  of the house and then broke back into it without permission, she is a trespasser: you should be able to contact the police to remove her (and press charges; e.g. breaking and entering, trespassing) since a trespasser has no right to residence or possession. You could also sue for the damage she did.

If the police however will not remove her, believing that the courts need to determine her right to remain there, or she never left possession, then you would bring either an eviction or an ejectment action:

If she was supposed to pay rent--even in the form of paying utilities--and has not, she was likely a tenant and needs to be evicted as a tenant. You could evict her for nonpayment of rent, which should let you begin eviction action immediately. However, you still need to evict through the courts (you can't simply lock her out), so it will take some time. Therefore, in addition to seeking to evict her, you should also sue her for monetary damages--for the physical damage to your home; for the utilities she should have paid; and for any storage and rental/hotel costs you incur because she is not out on time, for her holding over past the agreed upon vacancy date.

You should also base your eviction on, in addition to unpaid rent:

1) Her willful destruction of you property (the doors);

2) The fact that she held over past the expiration of her tenancy (remaining there past the agreed upon date).

Generally, bring every ground for eviction you can, so if you lose on one for some reason, there are still others.

If she had not been paying rent, then she was not a tenant, but was nonetheless a person who had occupied your home with your permission. Since she has not left when she no longer has permission, you could get her out, but it would be by a slightly different legal action, called ejectment.

As you can see, there are alot of variables depending on the exact facts and how she could be characterized. In all events, you can get rid of someone whom you don't want in your home, but the mechanism varies with the facts. Also, you have a right to sue for compensation if someone has occupied and damaged your home without permission. Given the potential complexity of the matter, you should hire an attorney to handle this for you. Good luck.


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