What are the exact laws on a house guest, are they a legal tenant?

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What are the exact laws on a house guest, are they a legal tenant?

I allowed a young guy stay here off and on the past 1 1/2 months because he’s homeless. He wasn’t allowed to eat my food, but he could shower once in a while. Since he’s homeless, he asked if he could have his tax return deposited in my account. I told him yes, but I’m gonna charge him $100. I recently asked him to leave and he did. Then he came back 3-4 days later yelling at me that he is a tenant and the police told me that I have to let him back in. He’s also claiming that he has belongings of his here.

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A house guest is not a tenant and has no possessory rights or right to remain in residence. A guest may be asked to leave at any time. However, if he claims that he is a tenant--e.g. that he has paid rent or has a lease--then the police are typically not going to intervene and you will need to go to court to get him out; that is, in the face of his claim to be a tenant, a court will have to determine his status and rights. The proper action to bring is most likely NOT an eviction action, since eviction actions (or "summary disposses" actions as they are also known) are used to lock out tenants who have violated their leases or stayed past the expiration of their tenancy; brining an eviction action could be an admission that he was a tenant. Instead, you probably want to bring an "ejectment" action, which is the legal action to determine rights to possession of real estate for non-tenants. You would be best served retaining an attorney to bring this action for you. Note that you muddied the water by charging him $100--he may try to claim that the $100 was rent, not a fee for depositing his refund.


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