Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Have you ever needed to evict the guest that doesn’t belong?
There is nothing better than a tenant who pays rent on time and takes care of your home. Sometimes, you move that person in (or who you expect to be that person) and someone moves in with them . . . how do you get that guest who is not on the lease out of your house?
About two years into our management business we received a call from an irate homeowner. According to her, we moved a “convicted sex offender” into the house next door.
Obviously, this made my heart sink and after listening to the homeowner’s valid concerns, I promised to look into it and asked her to forward me the notice she had received. Once off the phone I raced to the filing cabinet (remember those?) where we kept the applications and found the application for the new move in. It appeared, from the application at least, that the tenant was NOT a sex offender. We’d checked.
This caused me to do some investigative work. The neighbor mentioned that it was a male who was the sex offender and the only occupant according to our records was a female. Next move, pick up the phone and call the tenant to find out what was going on.
The tenant answered the phone, thankfully. I quizzed her about what I had just heard and was about to receive proof of. She denied knowing what I was talking about.
However, after awhile of speaking with her, she finally relented and admitted that it was her boyfriend and they couldn’t find a place because no one would take him. She then attempted to explain the story of “how it happened” when I stopped her.
Bottom line she had lied on the application and that was grounds for eviction. In Alabama Landlord Tenant Law, this couldn’t even be cured . . . meaning there was no way for her to make it right and stay unless I allowed it . . . which I didn’t.
Getting an unwanted person who is not on the lease out can be a little tricky.
Let’s look at a few things you should consider prior to diving into how to get them out.
1. What does your lease say about it? Most leases have a provision in them that states that guests who stay longer than a certain period of time will be required to be added to the lease. Typically I’ve seen this in the 7 – 14 day time period.
2. You will need to prove they are actually staying there. Which, can be harder than expected. If they are receiving mail there, then they are living there . . . but you can’t check their mail without committing a crime. What are some ways to prove they live there?
- Date stamped pictures of their car there overnight for a contiguous time that exceeds what your lease says.
- Proof from maintenance tech’s that the person is always at the house when they come over for work orders.
- If there is only one adult on the lease and the person living there with them is of the opposite sex, you can take pictures of the person’s clothing, deodorant, etc. that identifies them as living there and could not reasonably be the other person’s stuff.
3. You need to decide whether the person living there not on the lease is really a problem. This, in most circumstances, becomes a business decision. You will need to decide if you are really willing to go through the trouble to have them out and risk losing an otherwise good tenant.
For the rest of this article, we will assume that you decided that you can prove they are living there and are in violation of your lease by living there.
The first step is to put them on notice that they are in violation of the lease by posting a 7 day notice on the door for a “material non-compliance” breach of the lease. If you need more information on this, please see our “How to evict” blog posts where we go through them in detail.
My guess is that all things being equal, the tenant is going to make a phone call and swear their Aunt Mable is only in town for a short time and this is where you should share with them the evidence of her being there for much longer than that.
It has been our experience that most tenants will acknowledge, at least internally, that they need to get Auntie out and will do it and prove to you it is done. Proving can get a little tricky. Also, proving they haven’t moved for you will get tricky. But, let’s pretend you are able to do it.
After the 7 day notice expires, you will have to evict the Tenant. That’s right, you will be forced to evict your tenant for non-compliance of the lease. There is no way to get a guest of your tenant out of the house for trespassing . . . unless, of course, the tenant agrees the person is trespassing. If you need help with the eviction process, please click here.
Getting someone out of your rental home who doesn’t belong is such a sticky and challenging situation. You will need to make sure you have plenty of evidence, especially if the tenant is willing to take the matter all the way to a judge.
If you are willing to spend the time and effort, evicting a guest that doesn’t belong in your home, can really be a boost for the neighborhood and potentially your bottom line.