What to do if a tenant on the lease is moving out but their violent ex-girlfriend refuses to leave?

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What to do if a tenant on the lease is moving out but their violent ex-girlfriend refuses to leave?

I have a tenant that had his girlfriend move in with him. She has become unstable and violent and he wants to be rid of her. He put her things in a storage unit and is moving his things out voluntarily because he hasn’t paid the rent. Even though her things are no longer there, she is refusing to leave. She was not on the lease. Do I have to do a formal eviction through the court to get rid of her? What happens if she destroys the house in the meantime?

Asked on February 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Alaska

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

She may or may not be considered to be tenant.  For example, did you treat her as one - did you (or did you allow her to) put her name on the mailbox; did you accept any rent payments from her, etc? If so then she's a tenant.  If not, she will most likely be considered a "licensee"; that is someone allowed to stay on the property with the owner's permission.  In either case, the lawful way to remove this tenant from the premises is by filing an unlawful detainer action (i.e. eviction).  You will first need to give proper written notice (typically 30 days).  If she's not out by the date specified then you will have to file suit in court. In the meantime, do not pursue any "self-help" measures such as changing the locks.  If you do, you might find yourself facing a legal claim for unlawful eviction. If she causes damage to the premises, you will have to sue her in a separate action or deduct the amount of such damage from any security deposit that you hold (from her former boyfriend/roommate).

As to her exhibiting violent behavior, you did not give much by way of details.  Depending on the circumstances you might be able to have her removed immediately; for example if she is a threat to others.  At this point you should consult with an attorney the specializes in landlord/tenant matters.


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