Making The Deal Count

Making The Deal Count

What You Need To Know About Tenant-Landlord Laws Before You Let A Homeless Friend Stay With You

Trix Van Zee

Imagine this: a friend is homeless so you let him stay in your house until he can get back on his feet. After several months, he overstays his welcome and you ask him to leave, but he refuses to go. You call the police, but they can't do anything to get the unwelcomed guest out of your home. You speak with a lawyer who informs you that you need to start an eviction. What went wrong? Somewhere along the line, your house guest became your tenant. Don't let this happen to you.

If you are considering letting a homeless friend stay with you, it's important to understand that you could face a legal battle if the house guest becomes a tenant. While it's a good deed to help someone out by giving them a place to stay, there are a few things to avoid so your house guest doesn't become recognized by the court system as a legal tenant. Here's what you need to know.

Do not allow your guest to be able to claim your home as their primary residence

If your house guest treats your home as his or her own, he or she will be able to claim your home as their primary residence. If so, the police may not be able to remove the individual from your property if you call them. Here are a few ways a house guest can take up primary residence in your home.

  • uses your home address to receive his or her mail
  • fills out job applications or financial documents using your home address
  • uses your home phone to receive phone calls
  • moves furniture and personal belongings into your home
  • pays rent or gives you money to help cover household expenses
  • buys and prepares food in your kitchen
  • has use of a house key to come and go as he or she pleases

Depending on the laws of your state, there may be other examples of how a house guest can prove they use your home for their primary residence. Before you give up your couch or a spare bedroom to help someone out, speak with a real estate lawyer about the tenant-landlord laws in your state. That way, you can get a list of things to avoid so your house guest is not able to claim tenancy.

Ask the lawyer about how verbal agreements are handled in these types of cases in your state. Again, depending on state laws, it may be in your best interest to have the lawyer draw up a contract for you and your house guest.

How to handle removing the house guest if they do not leave 

If your house guest becomes unwelcomed, his or her status will make a huge impact on what you must do to get them to leave. If the house guest can prove tenancy, then you will need to evict him or her to get him to leave. Depending on your state's laws, you may be required to give him or her a notice to quit tenancy before you can get the court system involved. If the tenant still refuses to leave, then you can file an eviction through the court system. As a tenant, the individual has the right to appear in front of a judge to plead his or her case.

If tenancy is not established and the individual is still considered a house guest, you can file an unlawful detainer at your courthouse to make the court system aware that you want him or her to leave. You will not need to provide a notice to quit before filing an unlawful detainer for house guests. A judge will review your case and send an order for the house guest to leave within a specified time. If he or she doesn't, the police can then physically remove the individual from your property.

For more information, contact an experienced lawyer from a firm like Madigan & Scott Inc.


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About Me
Making The Deal Count

Have you ever stopped to think about how much money you have invested in your home? Although it might be tempting to overlook that paint job or the fact that the backyard didn't exist when you moved in, the money you spend on your house might matter when you move someday. Unfortunately, all of those careful improvements won't make much of a difference if you don't hire a skilled real estate attorney to protect your assets during the sale of your home. I want to make sure that you get top dollar for your place, which is why I made this blog.