Whatever the reason you didn't put your boyfriend's name on the lease, it makes things a bit tricky if you break up and decide you want him to move out. You may have to work with your landlord to get your boyfriend evicted. In some states, you can file a complaint to evict a guest or family member from your home, even though you're not technically the landlord. This involves notice and a court proceeding, and can take several months. If you are afraid for your safety, consider getting a temporary restraining order.
Filing an Eviction Complaint
Even though your boyfriend didn't sign the lease, a judge might decide that a landlord-tenant relationship existed between you and your boyfriend if he was paying you money towards rent. It doesn't have to be just money, though. He could also "earn his keep" by doing chores or repair jobs around the home.
Even if he's not considered a tenant, many states have laws that allow you to evict a guest or family member who you welcomed into your home. Talk to a landlord/tenant attorney to find out what the law is in your state. They usually offer a free initial consultation, so you can at least learn what your options are without necessarily having to hire an attorney. Many law schools also have landlord/tenant law clinics.
If you decide to file the complaint on your own, go to the clerk's office of the court in your county. They may have forms available that you can fill out to start your lawsuit. You'll have to pay a filing fee when you file your papers with the court clerk. The clerk will then set your first court hearing date, typically two or three weeks out from the date you filed.
Once you've filed the papers, you'll also have to hire a private process server or sheriff's deputy to serve your boyfriend with the court papers. These papers include a summons requiring your boyfriend to appear in court on the date of the hearing.
At the hearing, the judge will hear from both you and your boyfriend and make a decision. If the judge enters a judgment for possession, you have the right to take immediate possession of your home.
Even if your state allows eviction proceedings for a guest, this isn't the most efficient option if you want your boyfriend to move out. It may take between two and three months for the entire proceeding to conclude.
Working With Your Landlord
Not all states allow you to file an eviction complaint in your situation. If your boyfriend had entered into a sub-lease with you, you could sue for eviction as his landlord. But since that didn't happen, you may need to get your landlord to file the eviction complaint.
Read your lease carefully before you talk to your landlord, and make sure you're not in violation of it yourself. Many leases have a clause that states all adults living in the rental unit must be named in the lease. Since your boyfriend was not on the lease, your landlord may turn around and say that you are in violation of the lease and need to vacate the premises.
In some states, such as Arizona, landlords may call the police and have anyone who isn't on the lease removed from the property immediately. If your state has this type of law, this will be the quickest route to get your boyfriend out of your home.
Even without such a law, your landlord can start proceedings to evict your boyfriend. Just be aware that if your landlord goes to the trouble to evict your boyfriend, she may find a way to evict you as well. This process could take several months, but may be more of a disruption than you're looking for.
Getting a Temporary Restraining Order
If you feel as though you are in immediate danger, call the police immediately. You can ask for a restraining order at any time. Take care of your own safety first.
You can get the forms to ask the court for a temporary restraining order at the clerk's office of your county court. There typically isn't a fee to file a petition for a restraining order. All you need to do is provide some facts about yourself and your boyfriend, and the reasons you want a restraining order.
You'll have to serve your boyfriend with notice so he has an opportunity to appear in court. If the judge grants your restraining order, your boyfriend would be forced to move out of your home because he would not be allowed to be within 100 feet of you. He would also be restrained from the places where you live, work or go to school. You could get a police escort to accompany him as he removes his things from your home.
Since you are not the landlord, you may not be able to file an eviction complaint without getting your landlord involved. Apply for a temporary restraining order if you fear for your safety.
- DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Frequently Asked Questions: Evicting Guests, Roommates, Family Members, and Other Unauthorized Occupants from Your Home
- Pine Tree Legal Assistance: Rights of Maine Renters – Eviction
- New York City Housing Court: Starting a Roommate Holdover Case
- Wisconsin Department of Justice: Restraining Orders
- The exact process of evicting anyone varies state-by-state and sometimes even county-to-county within a state due to housing regulations. Check with the courthouse or at the city hall to find out exactly what you need to do.
Jennifer Mueller has a J.D. from the University of Indiana, Maurer School of Law. She has been sharing her legal knowledge on the internet since 2009. Mueller has been published in the Indiana Law Journal, and her writing appears on legal websites such as LegalZoom.