What to do if my roommates have failed to pay rent and are refusing to leave after being given notice?

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What to do if my roommates have failed to pay rent and are refusing to leave after being given notice?

They have not paid rent for the past 3 months. I have given them a 30 day notice and they failed to pay rent or vacate. They have verbally assaulted my fiance and she feels threatened and scared in her own home. We also have a 3 week old baby and I work graveyard. and I’m scared for there safety. These roommates are not on the lease nor is there any verbal agreement nor is there mail being delivered to the address. What can I do. They think they have legal right to occupy the room without paying rent.

Asked on June 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you fear for your and your family's safety, you can contact the police. If there is danger of imminent harm, these people can be removed from the premises immediately and barred from returning. You can then also file for a restraining order.

However, if the police don't feel that immediate intervention is warranted, you still have another remedy. First of all, these may be considered to be "tenants" if they ever paid rent or some form of it like utilities. If not then they will be termed "licensees" if the were invited to stay on the property with your permission. In either event, there are certain statutory protocols that must be followed in order to legally to remove them from the premises.

If they are not on the lease or have in some other way established a lawful tenancy with your landlord, then you as the legal occupant can file for an "unlawful detainer" action (i.e. eviction). A 30-day notice needs to be given. You have already done this but you need to make sure that the notice was legally sufficient; if it wasn't you will need to serve proper notice again. After this has been done, if they still fail to leave, you can then file in court. Once an order to vacate has been issued by the judge, if they haven't left by that time, you can have the sheriff evict them physically if necessary.

Having an attorney for this would be best. If money is an issue, see if your are eligible for representation by Legal Aid. If not, try a law school clinic if there is one nearby; they typically run free/low cost legal clinics. You can also try a tenants advocacy group in your area; they offer help to people in your situation.

Finally, here is a link that I think you will find to be of help: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/other/landten.htm


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