If I’m trying to remove two family members from my house, what is the legal process/proceedings for doing this?

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If I’m trying to remove two family members from my house, what is the legal process/proceedings for doing this?

Keep in mind the 2 members do not pay rent and there is no lease agreements. We do not charge family members rent; lived with us almost 10 years until recently going sour.

Asked on October 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not a lease (written or oral) exists, at this point these family members may well be considered to be tenants in the eyes of the law; it depends on whether any form of rent was paid (even utilities, cable TV, etc). If there was no rent of any kind given, after so long an occupancy they will at least be deemed to be "licensees" (i.e. long term guests). Either way, your family members will be accorded rights under the law. Consequently, you will need to go through a formal eviction process to remove them from your house. The legal way to remove them from the premises is to serve them with a notice to quit (30 days is the norm). If they fail to leave at the end of the time specified in the notice, then you will have to file an "unlawful detainer" (i.e. eviction lawsuit) with the court. Once the court enters an order for them to vacate the property it will be enforced by a sheriff, if necessary.

What you need to do now is to speak with an attorney in your area. They can best advise you on the correct procedures for all of this; you can also contact a tenant's rights organization for inormation as well. If you fail to comply with all legal requirements, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a civil suit for unlawful eviction. So don't be tempted to try self-help measures such as changing the locks or removing their belonging from the house.


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