If my freeloading sister lives with me and I want her out, must I give her a 30 day eviction notice?

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If my freeloading sister lives with me and I want her out, must I give her a 30 day eviction notice?

She does not pay any bills or rent; no name on lease; she gets some mail sent here. In fact, she is gone about 3 weeks out of the 4 (staggered,) She was told to move out by the first of this month but it got pushed back to the end of the month. I am moving her stuff to the dining room, it is sheltered, not being put near any trash. Her things are being taken care of; I am not being reckless. Yet, she is threatening legal action. She says that my handling of her stuff is illegal and I have to give her 30 day notice. Does she have a leg to stand on?

Asked on July 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Iowa

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid the your sister is correct. A  family member occupying your home may be considered a tenant regardless of whether or not they signed a lease, if rent or a form of rent was paid (i.e. they paid for things like utilities or food). However, even if no form of rent has been paid, in some states a person who enters your home and stays with your permission will be classified as a “licensee”. This status grants the family member more rights than just a guest. Accordingly, you will need to go through the steps of a formal eviction to have them legally removed.

When permission for them to remain is revoked, you must serve your family member with a notice to vacate the premises. This is a more formal way of asking the person to leave your home. The notice must be given before the suit is filed. In some jurisdictions this notice can be for a little as 3 days prior, in others as much as 30 days. Each state also has its own rules regarding how and when to serve the notice as well. Be sure to follow all legally required steps. If your family member fails to leave by the requested date, you can file an action for eviction. If it is granted by the court a vacate date for the family member will be given. If they still refuse to leave in violation of the order, you can then call law enforcement and to have them removed.

It's important that you follow the law are not tempted to use “self-help” measures such as changing the locks or physically removing the her yourself. You could not only delay the eviction but find yourself on the wrong side of a civil suit (or even criminal case). I realize that you have already relocated her personal possessions to another part of the houe (which you shouldn't have). At any rate at this point don't do anything further with them. If she moves them back into her room let her. At this point you need to let the legal system handle things.

 

You really should speak directly with an attorney in your area. They can advise you on the correct legal steps required in your jurisdiction.


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