If I have a relative living with me who won’t get out, must I evict them?

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If I have a relative living with me who won’t get out, must I evict them?

My uncle resides with me and I want him out. He tells me that I have to evict him through the courts even though he doesn’t pay anything. Is this true and what steps do I need to get rid of him?

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If he has been living for for an extended period of time (i.e. more than just a few weeks or so), then he will be considered to be a "licensee". That is someone who was invited to live on the premises by the owner. While they are not a tenant (since no rent is being paid), they must be evicted just the same.

What you first need to do is to give notice (typically 30 days written). If your uncle still hasn't vacated by then you will need to file an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction) in court. Once an order to vacate has been granted, your uncle must vacate the premises. If he doesn't you can contact the sheriff who will remove him (by physical force if necessary).

In the meantime do not use any "self-help" measures such as changing the locks or removing his belongings. If you do you can find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit.  Additionally, make sure to comply with all steps according to the letter of the law. You may want to speak with an attorney who specializes in landlord tenant matters or at least speak with a tenant's rights organization.


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