Can I just be kicked out of my rental ifI don’t have a written lease?

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Can I just be kicked out of my rental ifI don’t have a written lease?

I’ve lived in my current residence with a roommate for 8 months, now they want me out for no reason. I’m not on the lease as I moved in after he signed it. We have no written documentation between us specifying what I’m supposed to pay but I’ve been paying 1/3 of the rent and 1/2 of the electric for the last 8 months. Now out of the blue they want to kick me out. Can they do that? They are saying how they are going to the courthouse to get papers to kick me out in 3 days? Is that even legal?

Asked on August 25, 2011 Alaska

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Since you have paid rent, legally you are a tenant; or more specifically a sub-tenant sine you are not on the lease. And since you have no formal written agreement, you are considered to have a month-to-month lease. Accordingly, you can be asked to vacate the premises by the lawful occupant (i.e. your sub-landlord/roommate) upon proper notice.

If you have in no way breached the terms of your lease (i.e. are behind in rent, failed to pay for your share of the utilities, etc), proper notice is typically 30 days from the date that your next rental payment is due; no reason need be given. A 3-day notice to quit is usually appropriate in the case where a tenant fails to timely pay their rent, etc.

Even after you are served notice, if you don't leave by the date specified the only lawful way to get you to leave is for your roommate to file a formal eviction lawsuit (known as an "unlawful detainer"). This can take several weeks to complete. However, once a judge issues an order to vacate you must leave or your roommate can have the sheriff remove you physically if necessary.

Note: You may have achieved legal status as an equal tenant with your roommate (versus being merely a sub-tenant). If that is the case then the landlord will have to evict you. Such a status could have been established if your tenancy has been acknowledged by the landlord. For example, if you pay rent directly to the landlord, the landlord has put (or allowed you to put) your name on the mailbox, has given you keys to the premises, etc. A signed lease is not necessary.


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