Every now and again you might find yourself in a situation where you have to evict a tenant that’s not even supposed to be in the unit. This typically happens as a result of a visitor that just never leaves, either with the approval of the lease holder or sort of grudgingly without. The thing is, if you don’t know your rights, you may find yourself in a mess- most of the time, you cannot just throw the unauthorized person out.

Do you even need to ask them to leave?

Just because the new person was unauthorized, does not necessarily mean they’re a bad tenant. Now, if the unauthorized person is a clear violation of the lease agreement, then, it’s probably best to stick to your guns. However, if it’s a more iffy situation, you might simply offer notice and have the new person fill out their own application, then draft up a new lease for everyone now in the unit. This can also work out in your favor if you do have a clause in your lease about what happens when a roommate is added: ie: rent increases. This applies more if you realized that this is a guest that’s been staying too long, but otherwise, not causing trouble, though. If there’s someone there that you find out about because they’re drawing complaints, that may be another matter entirely.

And sometimes, you just might get a thank you note for telling them to give him the boot...

And sometimes, you just might get a thank you note for telling them to give him the boot…

To notify or not notify

Honestly, whether it is in your lease agreement or not, it’s just better business to deliver some form of notice. Again, you can either give notice that they need to apply and be approved within a set number of days, or you can begin the process of getting them out. If it is option two, electric eviction bugaloo- make sure you do it as quickly as possible after you know they’re staying there. In most states that have notice laws, you have to give notice for about 30-60 days. Check your state laws, we’re not lawyers, and this is not legal advice, but rather, just a tip that can help.

They’re still not leaving?

Now, if giving notice doesn’t work, you may have to step it up a bit. Remember when I talked about lease clauses? It’s a good idea to have one in your lease regarding unapproved tenants for this reason. Because if you have someone staying on when they shouldn’t be: if you don’t have a clause in respect to that situation, you may not be allowed to evict them under your state’s law. This also holds true if you have known about the person staying there and haven’t done anything- which is why I said that delivering notice helps, regardless.

More extreme cases

And just how is someone to know if a tenant is doing the pot? Well, sometimes, it's obvious. Sometimes, the tenant is Tommy Chong.

How do you know if illegal drug use is going on in a unit?
Well, if you’re renting it to Tommy Chong, that might be your first clue.

The police are not your go to guys if you just can’t get an unapproved tenant out. They’ll tell you the same thing almost every time: this is a civil matter. However, if you have good reason to think that it’s more than just an unapproved tenant, for instance, if you believe that there is some kind of serious criminal activity going on: then, it’s actually better that you do call and report it. If that is proven to be true, you’ll also likely be eligible to pursue a more expedited eviction of everyone involved, not just those that weren’t on the lease.

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Kurt Kroeck has written articles in real estate, law, and art related niches for a number of high profile publications. He is an avid WW2 re-enactor, artist in graphite, charcoal, and digital media. He volunteers in animal rescue and enjoys spending time with his children.