Can You Evict A Tenant Without A Lease? – A Comprehensive Guide


For Landlords

For Tenants

For Both Parties

Conclusion: A Legal Framework for Harmony

Can You Evict A Tenant Without A Lease?

The straightforward answer is yes, you can evict a tenant who is not on the lease. Even without a written lease, the law often recognizes an oral contract between you as the landlord and the tenant.

Typically, this defaults to a month-to-month lease in the eyes of the law, meaning either party can terminate the lease by providing a 30-day notice without needing a specific reason.

In such cases, the law acknowledges your ownership of the property and recognizes that the tenant is occupying it under agreed conditions, even if not documented in writing. You have rights concerning how the property is used and occupied, and you must maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition. Additionally, you must respect the tenant’s rights, including providing ample notice before any property inspection.

To end a lease with a tenant who does not have a signed lease agreement, follow the same legal steps as you would with a tenant on a month-to-month lease. This includes giving them official written notice to vacate the property. For guidance, refer to our guide on how to write an eviction notice without a lease.

If the tenant does not comply with this request, you can request an eviction hearing in your local court jurisdiction.

Lawful Reasons For Eviction

If you provide a tenant without a lease with a 30-day notice to vacate, you are not evicting them before the end of their tenancy agreement and do not need a specific reason. However, long-term tenants may contest this, and sometimes the law can side with them.

Therefore, providing a valid reason for eviction, as if breaking a lease early, can be beneficial. Reasons might include nonpayment of rent, property damage, or needing the property for personal use or renovations. However, personal animosities cannot be a basis for eviction.

Legal reasons for ending a tenancy early include:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Property damage
  • Breaking contract terms
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Skipping utility payments
  • Unauthorized pets
  • Health and safety violations
  • Owner removing the property from the rental market
  • Owner moving into the property

These reasons may also allow for less than 30 days’ notice, depending on local laws.

Unlawful Reasons For Eviction

Just as there are lawful reasons for eviction, there are unlawful ones. You cannot evict someone based on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Retaliatory evictions, such as those in response to a tenant filing a complaint or reporting a code violation, are also illegal. Other unlawful reasons include:

  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Violating lease terms
  • Retaliatory rent increases
  • Failure to provide notice

How Do I Evict A Tenant Without A Rental Agreement?

Once you identify a valid reason for eviction, follow these steps to evict a tenant without a lease.

General Step-By-Step Process For No-Lease Evictions

Step 1: Send A Notice To Quit

Start by sending a written notice asking the tenant to leave the property, detailing when and why they need to vacate. The required notice period varies by state and situation.

Step 2: File For An Eviction Hearing

If the tenant does not vacate by the specified date, file for an eviction hearing at your local courthouse. Some jurisdictions allow online filing and evidence submission. The court will schedule a hearing, and both parties will present their cases. The judge will decide the outcome, and if the tenant fails to appear, the decision typically favors the landlord. If you win, you’ll receive a judgment to enforce the eviction.

Step 3: Authority Eviction

Winning the case doesn’t grant you the right to forcefully remove the tenant. Instead, take the judgment to your local sheriff, who will execute the eviction.

Why Might You Have A Tenant Without A Lease?

Various situations can result in having a tenant without a lease:

A Tenant You Inherit

You might inherit tenants when you buy or inherit an occupied property. Ideally, you receive a copy of any existing lease agreements, but sometimes tenants remain without a written lease. In such cases, follow these steps:

  • Provide an official notice to quit with the proper waiting period.
  • If the tenant does not comply, file for eviction.
  • Present documents explaining the need for eviction.
  • If the court sides with you, take the court order to local authorities for eviction.
  • Never try to remove a tenant yourself.

Understanding and reviewing any existing arrangements before acquiring a property can help avoid these situations.


Squatters may be former tenants who stayed beyond their lease or individuals who moved in without permission. Evicting squatters follows a similar process to evicting tenants. Notify them of your intent to file for eviction, then proceed according to local laws.

Tenancy-At-Will Without A Lease

In tenancy-at-will situations, either party can terminate the agreement with a 30-day notice. Nonpayment of rent might allow for a shorter notice period. No specific reason is needed beyond the desire to end the tenancy.

How To Evict Someone From Your House Without A Lease

Evicting someone from your home can be an emotionally charged and complex process, especially when there is no formal lease agreement in place. This situation is common with family members or friends who may have been allowed to stay temporarily but have overstayed their welcome. Whether it’s an adult child, a relative, or a friend, the process of eviction follows a similar legal pathway to that of formal tenants. Here’s a detailed guide on how to handle this delicate situation while ensuring your rights as a property owner are respected.

Step 1: Communicate Clearly and Calmly

Before initiating any legal action, it’s essential to have a clear and calm conversation with the person you want to evict. Explain your reasons for needing them to leave and set a reasonable deadline for them to move out. This step can sometimes resolve the issue without further conflict. Documenting this conversation in writing, such as via email, can also provide a record of your request.

Step 2: Serve a Notice to Quit

If the person does not voluntarily leave after your conversation, the next step is to serve them with a formal notice to quit. This notice is a written statement informing the occupant that they must vacate the property by a specific date. The notice should include:

  • The property address
  • The occupant’s name
  • Your name and contact information
  • The reason for the notice (e.g., overstaying welcome, violation of verbal agreements)
  • The date by which they must leave
  • Instructions on how they can contact you for questions or discussions

The standard notice period is typically 30 days, but this can vary depending on local laws. Make sure to check the specific requirements for your area to ensure compliance.

Step 3: File for an Eviction Hearing

If the occupant does not leave by the specified date in the notice to quit, you will need to file for an eviction hearing at your local courthouse. This step involves submitting an eviction complaint and scheduling a court date. Some jurisdictions allow you to file online, but in others, you might need to visit the courthouse in person.

Once the court receives your filing, they will notify the occupant of the hearing date. During the hearing, you will present your case, explaining the no-lease situation, the notice you provided, and the reasons for eviction. The occupant will also have an opportunity to present their side.

Step 4: Attend the Eviction Hearing

At the eviction hearing, be prepared to provide evidence supporting your case. This might include written communications, the notice to quit, and any other relevant documentation. If the occupant fails to appear at the hearing, the judge typically rules in favor of the property owner.

If the judge sides with you, you will receive a judgment that authorizes the eviction. This judgment can then be enforced by local law enforcement authorities.

Step 5: Enforce the Eviction

Once you have obtained the eviction judgment, contact your local sheriff or law enforcement agency to carry out the eviction. You cannot forcibly remove the occupant yourself; doing so could result in legal repercussions. The authorities will handle the eviction, ensuring it is done legally and safely.


Evicting someone from your home without a lease is undoubtedly a challenging and stressful process. However, by following the proper legal steps—starting with clear communication, serving a notice to quit, filing for an eviction hearing, attending the hearing, and enforcing the eviction—you can regain control of your living situation. Always ensure that you are acting within the law to protect your rights and respect the occupant’s rights throughout the process. Consulting with a legal professional can also provide additional guidance and ensure that the eviction is handled correctly.


Fact Check: What Is A Notice To Quit?

A notice to quit informs a tenant by what date they must vacate the property. This applies in cases with or without a lease. Ensure it includes:

  • Property address and lease period information
  • Tenant and landlord contact information
  • Reason for notice
  • Vacate date
  • Contact for questions

Send the notice by certified mail to have proof of delivery.

A Bonus Option: Cash For Keys

Evicting a tenant can be a lengthy, stressful, and costly process for landlords. The traditional eviction route involves legal proceedings, court appearances, and sometimes even confrontations, which can be emotionally and financially draining. To circumvent these challenges, some landlords opt for a more straightforward and amicable solution: offering the tenant money to leave voluntarily, a method known as “cash for keys.” This approach can save time, reduce costs, and minimize conflict, making it an attractive alternative to formal eviction proceedings.

What is Cash for Keys?

Cash for keys is an arrangement where a landlord offers a tenant a sum of money to vacate the rental property voluntarily. The idea is simple: instead of going through the formal eviction process, which can take months and incur significant legal fees, the landlord provides an incentive for the tenant to leave peacefully and promptly. This method benefits both parties, as it allows the tenant to move out with some financial assistance while enabling the landlord to regain control of the property more quickly and without legal battles.

How Unbiased Options Real Estate Facilitates Cash for Keys

Unbiased Options Real Estate offers a specialized service to help landlords implement the cash for keys strategy. They provide an in-person consultation with the occupant, where they discuss the situation and offer the tenant the money that would otherwise be spent on an eviction. This service aims to create a mutually beneficial agreement, ensuring that the tenant leaves the property in good condition and the landlord avoids the hassle and expense of eviction.

Benefits of Cash for Keys

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Formal evictions can be expensive, with legal fees, court costs, and potential damages to the property adding up quickly. Cash for keys can often be a more economical solution, as the amount offered to the tenant is usually less than the total cost of an eviction.

2. Speed

The eviction process can drag on for months, during which time the landlord may not receive rental income and the property may remain occupied. Cash for keys expedites this process, allowing landlords to regain access to their property much faster and start generating rental income again or proceed with necessary repairs or renovations.

3. Reduced Conflict

Evictions can be contentious, leading to strained relationships and potential confrontations. Cash for keys is a more amicable approach, fostering a cooperative atmosphere where both parties can agree on terms without hostility.

4. Property Condition

Tenants who feel forced out through eviction might leave the property in poor condition or even cause intentional damage out of spite. With cash for keys, tenants are more likely to leave the property in good shape, as they have an incentive to comply with the agreement and receive their payment.

The Process of Implementing Cash for Keys

  1. Assess the Situation

Before offering cash for keys, it’s essential to evaluate the situation and determine if this approach is suitable. Consider the tenant’s history, the condition of the property, and the potential costs of an eviction.

  1. Determine the Offer

Calculate the amount of money to offer the tenant. This amount should be enough to motivate them to leave but less than the total cost of an eviction. Common offers range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the circumstances.

  1. Conduct the Consultation

Unbiased Options Real Estate can facilitate an in-person consultation with the tenant. During this meeting, the terms of the cash for keys agreement are discussed, and the offer is presented. It’s crucial to communicate clearly and ensure that both parties understand and agree to the terms.

  1. Formalize the Agreement

Once an agreement is reached, document it in writing. The agreement should include the amount offered, the vacate date, and any conditions, such as the property being left in good condition.

  1. Exchange Cash for Keys

On the agreed-upon move-out date, inspect the property to ensure it meets the conditions of the agreement. If everything is satisfactory, exchange the payment for the keys, and regain control of the property.


FAQs: How To Evict Someone Who Is Not On The Lease

Can You Evict Someone Without A Lease In My State?

Yes, each state has procedures for no-lease evictions, usually considering an oral agreement. Follow your state’s notice requirements and eviction process.

Is Evicting A Tenant Without A Lease Expensive?

Costs vary depending on tenant compliance and legal proceedings. No-lease evictions can be unpredictable, making it essential to avoid these situations when possible.

How Much Time Does A Landlord Have To Give A Tenant To Move Out?

Generally, landlords must give 30 days’ notice for tenants residing less than a year and 60 days for those over a year. Check local laws for specific requirements.

What Do You Do When A Tenant Without A Lease Refuses To Leave?

File for an eviction hearing promptly. The sooner you start the process, the quicker it will be resolved.

Can Landlords Keep Personal Property That Was Left Behind After An Eviction?

No, landlords must store and notify tenants about their belongings for a specified period before disposal, adhering to state regulations.

How Do You Write An Eviction Notice Without A Lease?

Compose a notice to quit detailing the no-lease situation and unwritten agreement terms. Ensure it is legally compliant and documented.

Can You Be Evicted Without A Lease?

Yes, tenants can be evicted without a written lease. Landlords must follow legal procedures, including giving notice and filing for eviction if necessary.

Why Should You Act Fast When Evicting a Tenant Without a Lease? What Are the Risks of Not Acting Fast?

When faced with the need to evict a tenant without a lease, acting swiftly and adhering to legal processes is crucial. The urgency in handling such situations cannot be overstated, as delays can lead to numerous complications and potential losses. This article will explore why prompt action is essential and highlight the risks associated with not acting quickly.

The Importance of Swift Action

Evicting a tenant without a lease can be a complex and time-sensitive issue. Here are several reasons why it’s important to act fast:

1. Minimize Financial Losses

The longer a problematic tenant remains in your property, the more money you stand to lose. Without a lease, tenants may be less inclined to pay rent regularly or at all. Additionally, the presence of a non-paying occupant means you cannot rent the property to someone else who might pay on time. Swift action helps mitigate these financial losses by reducing the amount of unpaid rent and allowing you to regain control of the property sooner.

2. Prevent Property Damage

Tenants who know they are being evicted may not take care of the property as well as they should. In some cases, disgruntled occupants might intentionally damage the property out of spite. Acting quickly can help minimize the risk of property damage, saving you from costly repairs and maintenance.

3. Maintain Property Value

Extended periods of neglect or misuse can degrade the condition of your property, impacting its market value. By acting fast, you can address any issues promptly, ensuring the property remains in good condition and retains its value. This is particularly important if you plan to sell or rent the property in the near future.

4. Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Every state has specific laws and regulations governing the eviction process, even for tenants without a lease. Acting quickly ensures that you comply with these legal requirements, avoiding potential legal repercussions. Delays can complicate the eviction process, potentially leading to extended court battles or fines for non-compliance.

5. Personal and Neighborhood Safety

In some cases, tenants without a lease may engage in illegal activities or create unsafe living conditions. Quick action to evict such tenants helps ensure the safety of not only the property but also the surrounding neighborhood. This can prevent crime and maintain a peaceful living environment for other residents.

Risks of Not Acting Fast

Failing to act promptly when evicting a tenant without a lease can lead to several risks and complications:

1. Extended Financial Strain

Delaying eviction can result in prolonged periods of unpaid rent, exacerbating your financial strain. The cumulative loss of rental income can significantly impact your cash flow and overall financial health.

2. Increased Legal Complexity

The longer you wait to initiate the eviction process, the more complex it can become. Tenants may become more entrenched, and legal battles may escalate, leading to increased legal fees and prolonged court proceedings. This can make the eviction process more challenging and time-consuming.

3. Potential for Escalating Conflict

Prolonging the eviction process can heighten tensions between you and the tenant. This can lead to increased conflict and potentially hostile situations, making it more difficult to resolve the issue amicably.

4. Damage to Property and Reputation

As mentioned earlier, delayed action can result in more significant property damage. Additionally, a prolonged eviction process can harm your reputation as a landlord, potentially affecting your ability to attract and retain quality tenants in the future.

5. Missed Opportunities

A property tied up in a prolonged eviction process is one that cannot be rented to new tenants or sold. This represents missed opportunities for generating income or capitalizing on favorable market conditions.

Determine the legality of your eviction reason, identify your tenancy type, consider cash-for-keys, send a notice to quit, and escalate to court if needed. With the right knowledge and approach, you can handle evictions smoothly and maintain your property’s integrity.

The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Unbiased Options Real Estate does not offer legal advice and encourages readers to consult with a qualified legal professional regarding their specific circumstances.

Get multiple options to sell within 24 hours

Free consultation with no obligation.