How to evict a family member who doesn’t pay rent? The Ultimate Guide!

12 tips on How to evict a family member who doesn’t pay rent

Evicting a family member who doesn’t pay rent can be a complicated process, and it’s important to follow the proper legal procedures to avoid any legal trouble. Here are the steps you can take to evict a family member who doesn’t pay rent:

1. Consult an Attorney:

   – Seek legal advice from a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law. Local and state laws are crucial in regulating evictions.

   – They can guide you on necessary notices, required documents, and handling rent payments.

2. Determine Family Member‘s Status:

   – Identify if the family member is a tenant, licensee, or neither.

   – If they are a tenant, you can’t simply eject them; a legal process is required.

3. Give Proper Notice:

   – Issue the correct notice, as per state laws, if the family member is a tenant.

   – Typically, notice periods are around 30 days, and the notice must be in writing, stating the reason for eviction.

4. Avoid Accepting Rent:

   – Refrain from accepting rent to avoid granting the family member additional rights.

– When you accept rent from a tenant who is behind on rent, it can be seen as a waiver of your right to evict them for nonpayment of rent.

– This is because accepting rent shows that you still recognize them as your tenant and that you are willing to continue the landlord-tenant relationship.

5. Consider Cash for Keys:

   – Before pursuing eviction, explore the possibility of a cash-for-keys agreement, which may be a cost-effective alternative.

6. Prepare for Court:

   – If the family member doesn’t vacate as required, file an eviction petition in local courts.

   – Attend the court hearing and present your case.

7. Follow Court Decisions:

   – If the court rules in your favor, you’ll receive a writ of possession, allowing removal of the family member.

   – Do not attempt to remove them yourself; use law enforcement.

8. Avoid “Self-Help” Evictions:

   – Do not engage in self-help evictions, such as physically removing the family member without legal proceedings.

9. Document All Communication:

   – Maintain records of all communications with the family member, including emails, texts, and letters.

10. Prepare for Emotional Stress:

    – Recognize that evicting a family member can be emotionally stressful. Self-care is important during the process.

11. Practice Patience:

    – Understand that the eviction process can be time-consuming. Be patient and adhere to the proper legal procedures.

Steps to File an Eviction Petition Against a Non-Paying Family Member

  1. Determine your local court jurisdiction. Typically, this is the court in the county where the property is located.
  2. Contact the court clerk’s office to learn the specific requirements for filing an eviction petition. This includes information on filing fees, necessary forms, and service of process requirements.
  3. Gather the required documentation, such as a copy of the lease agreement (if applicable), a copy of the notice to vacate given to the tenant, and proof of service of the notice to vacate.
  4. Accurately and completely complete the eviction petition forms.
  5. File the eviction petition with the court clerk’s office and pay the associated filing fees.
  6. Serve the eviction petition on the tenant. This can be accomplished through personal service, certified mail, or publication in a newspaper.
  7. Attend the eviction hearing scheduled by the court. Present your case to determine whether the tenant should be evicted.
  8. If the court rules in your favor, you’ll receive a writ of possession. This grants you the legal authority to evict the tenant. The sheriff will serve the writ of possession on the tenant, providing a deadline to vacate. If the tenant does not comply, the sheriff will forcibly evict them.

What are some alternatives to eviction when a family member doesn’t pay rent?

Have a Conversation:

  • Before taking legal action, communicate with the family member to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Payment Plan:

  • If the family member is experiencing financial difficulties, consider establishing a payment plan to help them catch up on rent and prevent eviction.


  • Offer a “cash for keys” arrangement, which provides the family member with funds to secure new housing and avoids the costly eviction process.


  • Seek mediation with the help of a neutral third party if communication with the family member is challenging. Mediation aims to facilitate agreement between both parties.

Temporary Rent Reduction:

  • If the family member’s financial struggles are temporary, consider negotiating a temporary rent reduction to support their recovery.

Legal Advice:

  • Consult with a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law. They can offer legal advice and suggest alternatives to eviction tailored to your specific situation.

The most suitable alternative to eviction will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. It’s essential to consult with a local attorney for precise guidance and to explore the options that best address your family member’s non-payment of rent.

Mistakes to avoid when evicting a family member who doesn’t pay rent

Improper Notice:

  • Ensure that you provide the correct and legally required eviction notice before initiating the eviction process. Failure to do so can lead to delays and additional costs.

Insufficient Documentation:

  • Maintain thorough documentation of lease violations to strengthen your case if court intervention becomes necessary.

Mistakes in Paperwork or Legal Procedures:

  • Errors in paperwork or legal procedures can result in delays. Consult with a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law to ensure compliance and receive legal guidance.

Engaging in Self-Help:

  • Avoid taking matters into your own hands by forcibly evicting the family member without a court order. This is illegal; follow the proper legal process.

Non-compliance with Local or State Requirements:

  • Failing to adhere to local or state requirements can lead to restarting the eviction process, incurring additional court fees, potentially covering the tenant’s defense costs, or losing the opportunity to re-rent the property.

Accepting Partial Rent:

  • Be cautious about accepting partial rent after providing an eviction notice, as it might terminate your eviction rights under certain state and local laws, especially if non-payment of rent is the sole reason for eviction. Seek legal advice to understand the rules in your jurisdiction.

Understanding the Family Member’s Status:

  • Determine whether the family member is a tenant, licensee, or neither. Each status requires different legal procedures.

Not Exploring Alternatives to Eviction:

  • Consider alternatives to eviction, such as open communication, payment plans, cash-for-keys arrangements, mediation, temporary rent reductions, or seeking legal counsel. Eviction may not always be the most suitable solution.

Avoiding these common mistakes is essential for a smooth and legally sound eviction process. Consulting with a local attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law is advisable to navigate the complexities of eviction procedures effectively.


Evicting a family member who doesn’t pay rent is a complex and emotionally challenging process. To successfully navigate this situation, it is vital to understand the legal procedures and avoid common mistakes, as outlined in the provided steps. However, eviction should be the last resort. Open communication, alternative solutions like payment plans, and the guidance of a local attorney can help resolve the issue without resorting to eviction. Balancing the legal process with compassion is key to handling this difficult situation effectively and maintaining family relationships where possible.

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