The legal process of evicting someone from a residence is not simple.
The accepted formal procedure for evicting someone from their residence is to consult with an attorney and file a legal motion with a court. The court will then hear the reasons as to why an individual believes that a person who lives with them or rents from them should be removed from the residence. Physically throwing someone out or locking them out of their residence is not an acceptable way to deal with the situation; in many cases, it can leave an individual open for formal charges and even a potential civil suit if the evicted party decides to take legal action.
For adults who have an established residence in an individual’s home even if they are not paying rent and are disruptive or dangerous, the process to formally evict someone must be accomplished through formal legal channels. Someone who has not established a legal residence in a dwelling, such as someone who just comes into your home and decides to live there without some formal agreement, can be evicted; however, the best approach to having them removed is to call local law enforcement officers and explain the situation to them. Then, the law enforcement officers can formally remove the individual from the residence if they believe that this removal is justified.
It’s not easy watching a loved one battle a substance use disorder. It’s even harder to draw the line between enabling their use and loving them. Specifically, forcing an adult with an active addiction out of your home can be uncomfortable for everyone. American Addiction Centers has locations across the country, providing 24-hour medical detox, treatment, and aftercare services, all available outside the home. If your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, please reach out to one of our admissions navigators at so they can get the help they need right now.
Laws Vary According to StateThere are specific legal definitions of what defines residence and/or a person’s domicile that vary from state to state. Individuals who wish to review these stipulations as they are applied in their state or locality can visit their state’s website for more information on how these terms are legally defined (e.g., if one lives in California, visit http://www.ca.gov/). People can also call their local state information agents and ask them where to find this information; typically, these contact phone numbers are given on the state’s website.
In some cases, individuals who are renting may have guests who abuse drugs and become a perceived threat. Most renters typically have a formal written rental agreement that defines when a guest staying in the home becomes a tenet of the dwelling according to the landlord. One can check with their formal rental contract regarding this situation. These stipulations may also be specified by local and state governments.
Again, it is best to seek legal counsel when a person has a question regarding how these situations are legally defined.
If someone living in your home is involved in criminal behavior that you consider to be either dangerous or threatening to you, or the person is making physical threats, the best course of action is to contact local law enforcement authorities, explain the situation to them, and let them handle it. If the person is arrested and formally charged, you could conceivably attend the person’s formal arraignment hearing and make a case to the judge as to why you think the individual should not be allowed to return your home. Again, the best approach is to consult with an attorney before taking any formal legal action.
For people who have lodgers in their homes and have some type of formal rental agreement, it is a very good idea to specify expectations regarding the expected behavior of the person as well as their use of alcohol or drugs in any formal contracts that are drawn up. When these written specifications are violated, it becomes far easier to make a case to have them removed from the residence.
For individuals who live in a specific residence and do not have a formal written agreement, one can set specific boundaries regarding drug use and other behaviors that can help to discourage the person from engaging in these activities. However, this situation can become very sticky, and it is best to get written agreements regarding boundaries (which are really rules) for individuals who live with you and are not physical dependents. In the case of a physical dependent who is abusing drugs, it is also most likely a good idea to formally post your rules and regulations regarding such behaviors in an accessible area of the home. When such regulations are signed by someone or formally posted in the home, they provide concrete evidence that may help to get someone removed from the residence, but again, there is no guarantee that a judge will rule in your favor. As always, consult with an attorney regarding how to handle the situation.
The Bottom Line
The process of evicting someone from a residence is not as simple as many people believe. It requires a formal legal hearing in most cases, and anyone who has an issue with someone who lives with them should consult with an attorney before taking any action unless the person is physically threatening you or engaging in serious criminal behavior.
In these cases, the individual should consult with local law enforcement officials and let them resolve the situation.
Disclaimer: Anyone who wishes to seek information regarding legal procedures should consult with a licensed attorney before taking any action. This article is not intended to be a substitute for formal legal advice and makes no claims regarding the diffusion of responsibility for any individual who violates formal legal procedures regarding evicting someone from a residence.