If my roommate didn’t pay the rent and his name is not on the lease, can I take him to court for an eviction?

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If my roommate didn’t pay the rent and his name is not on the lease, can I take him to court for an eviction?

Asked on February 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Since your friend is not on the lease and did not pay any rent, he will most probably not be considered to be a "tenant" (see note below).  Accordingly, he will be considered to be a "licensee" (i.e. someone invited onto the property and allowed to stay).  Now that permission to stay has been revoked, you (the legal occupant) must give a 30 day notice for him to vacate the premises - whether or not he is on the lease).  If he doesn't leave by the date specified then you will need to file a "unlawful detainer action" (i.e. eviction). 

Note:  If he was a tenant, then your landlord would need to file because only landlords can evict tenants.  In addition to being on the lease and/or paying rent, he may have achieved the status of a tenant if your landlord put (or allowed him to put) his name on the mailbox/doorbell, or if you and he rented the place together and it was clear that both of you were on equal footing, etc. 

Regardless of who files for an eviction, it is important that they comply with all legal requirements; this includes proper notice to vacate the premises.  Someone who is put out of their home in an unlawful manner is entitled to recover damages in a separate legal action against the wrongdoer. Additionally, using illegal methods to force someone to move is a criminal violation.  Therefore self-help measures such as removing personal belongings or changing locks, cannot be used.  At this point, you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney or tenant's rights organization to find out just what the process is for a legal eviction in your state.


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