Lessons from Eviction Court: Name Every Legal Occupant

Posted by Stephen Marshall on

          Winning eviction cases is all about attention to detail. The goal of an eviction case is to regain possession of the rental unit. Collection of unpaid rent or other fees is separate and must be pursued in a separate action. In order to be sure that you gain the right to regain possession of the property from all other persons, you should be sure to identify every adult listed on the lease agreement in your eviction complaint. It doesn’t matter if the person is listed as “tenant”, “resident”, “occupant”, “lease holder”, “head of household”, or some other name indicating that the person actually lives in the rental unit.

          You should not include someone who signs the lease as a Guarantor, as that person only guarantees that the tenant will perform his or her obligations under the lease, but has no occupancy rights. You also do not need to name any individuals residing in the unit who are not listed on the lease as long as they have no oral agreement to occupy the unit. Such individuals may only claim their right to occupancy by virtue of the people who are actually on the lease. So as long as list all the people actually listed on the lease, you will extinguish all other rights of occupancy.

          The last thing you want is to win an eviction case against one person on the lease, but have to return later to evict another person listed on the lease because you failed to name that person as a party in your eviction.

           Have a great weekend!

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  • Judges have varying opinions on whether “et al” or similar phrases have any legal effect when you don’t actually list the person’s name. I always include “and all other residents” on our eviction complaints, as I think there is a strong argument that this language clearly gives all persons living in the rental unit sufficient notice that they are being evicted.

    Stephen Marshall on
  • Great short Articles! Thanks. The court clerk used to recommend to landlords that we list “et. al.” after listing all the names on the Lease. Does that still apply and what does that actually mean?

    Craig Hardin on

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