Is it legal to evict a family member from my home?
Generally, yes. The law treats most family members like any other tenant or occupant of your property. The exceptions in most states are family members to whom you owe a duty of support, typically spouses and minor children. Thirty states recognize a duty of support for parents, and a handful extend this duty to grandparents and siblings. A Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney can help you determine whether your state imposes a duty of support for the family member you want to evict.
As with any other tenant, your ability to evict a family member will depend on your Residential Lease Agreement, if you have one. If they regularly pay rent and comply with other lease terms, you may need to wait until the lease ends and give proper Notice of Non-Renewal before you begin eviction proceedings. Most states recognize oral or verbal leases as binding provided the lease is for less than one year.
If there is no lease or agreement to pay rent, and you owe your family member no legal duty of support, then they may be considered a guest. Guests must have permission to remain in your home. Once you withdraw that permission, they are trespassing. You may call local law enforcement to remove them from your home if they refuse to leave. In areas with strong renters protections, or if rent was ever paid, either in cash or via services or other household contributions, it may be more complicated. If the relationship is not clear, you may want to ask a lawyer for help to avoid serious legal trouble.
What is the process for evicting a family member?
The process for evicting a family member depends on whether or not they have a lease and if they are complying with its terms. If they are not complying with one or more terms, including rent, you may begin the eviction process at any time. If the tenant fully complies with the terms of their lease and is not interested in leaving before the lease ends, you may have to wait until the end of the lease to deliver a Notice of Non-Renewal before beginning the eviction process. In most states, this notice is required at least 30 to 60 days before the lease expires and must be made in writing. If your family member has no specified lease term or has a month-to-month lease, you may provide this notice at any time, so long as you provide the legally required amount of time for your family member to move out.
If your family member is noncompliant with the lease terms or refuses to leave after you have given them a Notice of Non-Renewal, you may serve them with a written Eviction Notice. Most places require at least three days between serving notice and beginning eviction, but the time period varies based on your location and reason for eviction.
Once you have served the eviction notice and waited the appropriate length of time, you may seek eviction in court. Many states and cities have specific courts for hearing landlord and tenant disputes. After filing in court, you will notify your family member of the eviction lawsuit by giving them a copy of the lawsuit (often called serving) and other documents that may be required by the court. Your family member will then have an opportunity to respond in writing. You may then go to a settlement conference or proceed to a trial. The process is often faster than normal civil court cases, but cases can drag on for a few months or more.
If the court decides in your favor, it will issue an order that may be enforced by the local sheriff. In most places, your family member will have a grace period to vacate the property on their own, before the sheriff forcibly removes them.
Can I charge my adult child rent or evict them?
Generally, yes. The obligation to support children ends when the child reaches the age of majority (18 in most states, though there are exceptions). Some states extend this duty for adult children who, despite reaching the age of majority, are not able to provide or care for themselves, such as those with serious disabilities or special needs.
When your child becomes an adult, you may require them to sign a lease and pay rent, or leave. If they refuse to leave, you may need to evict them through the court process, or employ some creative, but legal, tactics, such as a cash-for-keys deal.
Can I collect back rent from a family member who never had a lease?
You cannot collect back rent from a family member, or any person, who has been occupying your property without a lease or other agreement as to rent. However, the lack of a lease or agreement may indicate that your family member is not a tenant, but merely a guest, and cannot remain on your property against your wishes. If they refuse to leave, they are trespassing and you may enlist local law enforcement to remove them from your property.
If your family member verbally agreed to pay you rent, but that agreement was never written down, you may be able to collect back rent. Most states recognize oral or verbal leases as binding as long as they are less than one year. An informal lease or rental agreement, depending on your state's law, may also automatically convert into a month-to-month lease after it ends.
Still, proving the verbal agreement in court may be difficult, so you should enlist the assistance of any witnesses to the agreement to strengthen your claim. You should also document your attempts to collect back rent from your family member with a Late Rent Notice. Once your family member agrees to pay the back rent, make a Late Rent Payment Agreement. If your agreement features installments, make a Rent Payment Plan.
How do I remove a family member who is living in their trailer on my property?
The legal process for evicting a family member living in their RV or trailer on your property is the same as evicting a family member from your home or rental property.
If the trailer belongs to your family member, they have a legal obligation to take it with them. If they do not take it with them within a certain time period, you may be able to take legal action to claim ownership of the trailer or have it removed. A lawyer can help you understand your options.
If you have more questions about evicting a family member or someone else you live with, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.