How To Evict Someone Not On A Lease

By Ashley Paskill on December 15, 2023

No matter how careful you are as a landlord, sometimes tenants live on your property who are not officially on a lease. It may be a family member or significant other who moves in and does not sign the lease but lives with a tenant. You may or may not be aware of the situation. However, if you are aware of the situation and you do need to evict the person who is not officially on the lease, here’s what to know about dealing with it in the present and avoiding similar instances in the future.

Screen every tenant

While you may be tempted to only screen the “main tenant,” it is crucial to screen every tenant, even potential roommates. Just because one tenant seems like they will be a good fit, it does not mean that they all will be good fits. Screening each roommate individually as opposed to a group as a whole individual package will help eliminate the chance that you will have to evict someone who is not officially on the lease. You will be able to pick out those who may have a background of not being a great tenant and who are trying to use a roommate to prove they are actually good tenants.

Have each roommate sign

As mentioned above, it can be tempting to view roommates as an individual group of one unit. However, if you ensure that each individual roommate signs the lease, they will be more aware of the rules and regulations of the lease. This will also cover you should you have to evict a roommate. You will be able to prove that everyone is on the lease and this will provide evidence should you need to go to court for any issues. Each roommate signing the lease shows that they are aware that they are jointly responsible for property maintenance, rent, and anything else they may be evicted for.

Have a clear and thorough lease

Clearly outline any rules and expectations you have for tenants within your lease. This includes things like subletting and having guests over. If you outline how long guests can stay, you eliminate having to worry about them becoming tenants who are not technically on the lease. If a tenant who signs the lease tries to fight that they are just a guest, you should be able to provide evidence from the lease itself to prove how long you say guests can stay. Also, if you allow subletting, you should provide step-by-step instructions for getting subletters set up with a lease agreement so they are aware of what they are liable for.

Check your initial lease agreement

Just as you would tell your tenants to check their lease agreements for issues that may arise, it is important for you to check the lease if you are having any doubts. Again, this information should be thorough and provide clear information on things like regulations and what tenants are liable for. If tenants have questions, you should be able to point to specific sections of the lease and have the questions answered. In the event a tenant finds a loophole or an error, it may be too late to fix it immediately. Once their lease is up go through and fix it. Also, be sure to fix other leases you have with tenants to clarify things that you found with tenants.

Steer clear of emotions

Having to evict tenants can be stressful, but evicting someone who is not even on a lease can be especially overwhelming. However, it is crucial for you to stick to the facts and not let your emotions take over the situation. Having emotions take over will only stress you and everyone else out more than necessary. When evicting someone not on your lease, make sure you have the evidence and facts you need to succeed and get your side across. If you struggle with confrontation, write things down so that you have it written so you have something in front of you. Explain your reasoning and be firm and fair. If you are evicting someone for something, be sure you are holding others to the same account.

Image: Andrew Neel via

Keep things legal

It is important that you know the laws of eviction in your area. Each state has its own eviction laws, so be sure you know your state’s laws. Get a lawyer early on to help make sure your facts are straight and you have everything you need from the start. A lawyer will help ensure that you are not letting your emotions get in your way. They know the laws of your state and everything you will need. They also know if you have grounds for eviction or not. Even before you get to the point of eviction, consider hiring a lawyer to help write your lease agreements so they are familiar with what you need.

Evicting someone who is not officially on the lease is stressful, but knowing what to do and staying calm will help you through the process.

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