What type of legal action can a landlord take when a paying tenant moves in a friend for over a year without the landlord’s permission/awareness?

UPDATED: May 30, 2012

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What type of legal action can a landlord take when a paying tenant moves in a friend for over a year without the landlord’s permission/awareness?

My mom offered to rent her house to a friend and his wife who were on hard times. Since the year plus, they have moved in 2 more people and 5 cats without my mom’s permission or awareness. My mom found out and gave all occupants a verbal 30 day notice that someone else was moving into the house and they all needed to be out. The original renters said they will be out, but the other occupants refuse to leave for another 90 days, due to a recent surgery. There is no lease, just a verbal agreement with the original renters. My mom was advised the non-paying couple is trespassing. What can she do?

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there was no written lease, the tenants were month-to-month tenants; that means, as your mother evidently knew, that their tenancy could be terminated and they could be asked to leave on 30 days notice.

Once the tenancy is terminated, their guests have no right to be there--their right to be there is only at the permission of the actual tenants, but those tenants cannot grant permission when they no longer have the right to stay there themselves. That the guests had surgery is irrelevant--their surgery does not give them any legal right to stay in your mother's premises.

Technically, they will be trespassers if they hold over past when the tenants no longer have possessory rights, and the police *should* remove them if they won't go. However, the police often refuse to if the trepassers have been living there for some time and claim they have some right to be there; in that instance, the police want the courts to determine whether or not they do in fact have a right to remain.

Therefore, if they won't go after 30 days, the first thing to do is to ask the police for help. If the police won't help, your mother will need to bring an action to remove them, since landlords may not evict tenants themselves--only the courts and court officers may do this. It will not technically be an eviction or summary disposses action, since those are for tenants who violated the lease or provided other grounds to remove them; it will be what's called an "ejectment" action. The best thing to do would be for your mother to retain an attorney to bring this action for her. If the tenants or the guests have damaged the premises or otherwise cost your mother money, the lawyer can also bring a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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