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When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?

In most states, it's pretty quick for a guest to become a tenant at will. That means they have basic tenants rights, including the right to a legal eviction.


Once someone is a tenant they can lay claim to all sorts of tenants' rights—most notably, a lawful eviction process. The laws are different from state to state, but generally a guest becomes a tenant based on their relationship with the landlord. If they can demonstrate that the landlord knew they were there and didn't do anything about it, or accepted their rent payments, then they may be able to claim tenants' rights. Choose your state from the dropdown menu at the top of this page for more information about the laws where you live.

To understand your situation, barring specific guidance in your state, you can use common sense. If you’re staying with a friend for a defined period of time you’re probably a guest. If you lose your return ticket and start contributing to rent then you’re at at-will tenant, and locking you out or forcing you out at that point is actually illegal.

If your subtenant or roommate may be able to claim tenancy and you want to evict them, then your first step will be send them rent demand or notice to cure letter.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.


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