Evicting a Tenant With No Lease

Author: Todd Christiansen | Category: Eviction, Eviction Law

This is always a problem area.  Many people will make verbal rental agreements all in good faith that both sides of the deal will live up to their end of the agreement.  Often, it seems that the tenant doesn’t live up to their part.  I am not sure if these tenants are dishonest, dumb, or just have bad memories of what the agreement was.  I have seen numerous friendships and even some family relations go bad when you allow someone to rent your home with no lease.

When it is finally time for you to evict a tenant with no lease, you need to put together a strong case because at the end of the day, without anything in writing, this could be a terrible argument about he said/she said in court.  Here are some ideas on how a landlord should prepare his case:

  • If the disagreement is over how much the rent actually is supposed to be, historical records are going to be your best evidence of what was originally agreed upon.  An example is that if the tenant had been paying $500 for 6 months and then starts paying $400 because he thinks that is the correct lease amount, the 6 months of history can be good evidence that was the agreement.  Bring rent statements, bank account records and anything else you can find that will show a history.
  • If the eviction is regarding non-payment of rent, but the tenant is disputing this, you may be able to coast through this as they will need to bring their evidence such as canceled checks or payment receipts showing that they paid you.  If you had previously been mailing statements, bring that up in front of the judge, because the tenant should have brought it to your attention immediately if the statement was incorrect.
  • When the eviction is about what you believe to be a lease violation, such as pets in the apartment or other items, this will be much more difficult to prove that you did not agree to this.  If this is a multi-unit building, you may be able to show that other tenants understood this rule was in affect by getting copies of their leases or signed affidavits from the tenants.  You may want to consult with an eviction attorney about this case as it can be difficult.  You can add to your documentation by writing a letter to the tenant prior to the eviction explaining the violation and giving them a chance to remedy the issue.  This can show the judge that you tried to work through the issue, but the tenant refused.
  • Criminal matters can also be difficult to evict for unless you have police reports showing a consistent problem.  You may need multiple incidents if the calls are minor (parties).  Major items, such as drug sales or prostitution, should be dealt with immediately on the first offense.  Get some eviction advice from the local community service officer at the police station when dealing with criminal evictions.
  • Just like you are using the history to your advantage, don’t let it work against you.  If you verbally agreed to allow the tenant to paint instead of paying rent, that will come out in court.  Make sure you have not made any agreements like that.

Evicting a tenant with no lease can be much more difficult than a tenant with a lease.  You just need to make sure that you have a solid case put together before ever filing the eviction.

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