Can Someone Other Than Landlord Begin Eviction Process?

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Everyone knows your landlord can evict you? But who else—if anyone—can do this? Is there anyone other than landlord who can use the eviction process?

The answer is “yes”—there are other parties who can begin the eviction process. When you think about who they are, though, it will make sense that they can do this.

What is Eviction?

First, what is eviction? It’s not a determination as to ownership—the property owner’s ownership is not affected by whether or not he or she can evict a tenant. It also has nothing to do directly with recovering unpaid rent or other amounts—though, of course, a landlord can sue for those as well as bringing a legal action for eviction.

No, eviction is simply a determination as to who has the possession of the premises. If the landlord wins, he or she can take possession back from the tenant—which means that the tenant no longer has the right to possess, occupy, or use the land or space. That’s the key to determining  who can bring an eviction proceeding—it’s anyone who has legitimate grounds to contest the tenant’s possession and take possession (back) for  themselves.

The Usual Eviction Suspects

Here are the most common parties who could bring an eviction proceeding:

  • The landlord, which is usually the property owner
  • The property owner’s agent or management company—if a person or business was hired by the property owner to manage the property, the manager is acting as the landlord’s agent and can seek eviction of tenants
  • A tenant from whom a subtenant is subleasing—if someone is subleasing, the tenant they are leasing from is their (the subtenant’s) landlord; as landlord, the main tenant can evict
  • The tenant can also evict house guests—including family members or significant others not on the lease; they have possession of the premises, and can evict those who don’t
  • Someone (like a lender) who acquired the property in foreclosure—they’re the new owner, and can exercise the rights of a landlord 
  • A new property owner—as with the above, if someone buys  the property, they become the landlord and have the landlord’s rights

Who Can’t Evict

And here are parties who may like to evict or threaten eviction, but who can’t:

  • Co-tenants—if you’re all on the lease together, no one of you has superior rights to the others. The landlord may be able to evict one or more of you, but you can’t evict each other.
  • Guests or family members not on the lease, no matter what the relationship. Break up with your live-in boyfriend/girlfriend? If you’re on the lease and he or she is not, the ex- can’t make you go.
  • A lender, until and unless it takes over the property—lending money does not make one a landlord or give one a right to possession.
  • Someone who assigned the lease  to you—in a sublet, you’re renting from a tenant, who’s your landlord; but if the person actually assigned the lease to you, you took over the lease from him or her, and he or she has no more rights in the property. 
  • Neighbors—a neighbor can complain to your landlord, and maybe the landlord will evict you, if there are grounds for it; but the neighbor him- or herself has no eviction rights.

How an Attorney Can Help

Eviction is one of the most important legal proceedings many people will be involved in. It can also—whether as evictor or evictee—be very stressful and emotionally draining. Let a lawyer help you, whether it’s helping you to file eviction or defending you from eviction.

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