Nialis Law Group, A Professional Law Corporation
contact menuMenu


One of the most difficult situations a homeowner can encounter is when a houseguest has overstayed their welcome. Most homeowners try to avoid that awkward conversation and nine times out of ten, the houseguest will voluntarily leave. However, in those rare cases when a houseguest refuses to leave, a homeowner should be advised of their legal rights and the steps they should take. This is especially true when it comes to evicting family members. Evicting family members seems to be a gray area in real estate law which requires legal expertise. These are five steps to consider if you ever encounter a similar problem:

1. Politely ask the family member to leave

Sometimes all it takes is to ask the family member to leave. Even though the family member might not pay rent, they may have more rights than you expect. Asking the family member to leave could avoid any further family issues or even the stress of taking legal action.

2. Determine whether the family member is a guest, lodger, or periodic/tenant-at-will

If the family member refuses to leave, it's important to know what type of guest the law considers them. A person staying in someone else's home can have one of three legal statuses: guest, lodger or tenant.

  • Tenant: If the family member is a tenant, they likely pay rent and can be evicted through a formal eviction process.
  • Guest: Guests generally do not pay rent and can become trespassers. Police removal is possible. However, this is unlikely if there is no real threat or disturbance of the peace.
  • Lodger: A lodger is a person who shares a dwelling with the owner but does not have a specific assigned space. A formal eviction is not necessary.

3. Send a demand letter

If asking the family member to politely vacate does not work, sending a demand letter might be a possible option. However, a letter written by an attorney will likely carry more weight and establish your legal rights.

4. File an unlawful detainer

If all else fails, an unlawful detainer can be filed. Regardless if the family member is deemed a guest, lodger, or periodic/tenant at will a 30-day notice must be given before filing an unlawful detainer. However, if the family member has been there for over a year, they will require a 60-day notification before filing a summons and complaint.

5. Ask an attorney

As discussed above, evicting family members is a gray area in the law. Determining when and how to take legal action can be complicated and complex. If a family member refuses to leave, they may be protected under the law and advice from an attorney may be necessary.

At the Nialis Law Group, we represent homeowners with complex eviction scenarios and have years of experience with unlawful detainer filings.

Nialis Logo.png

Because of the generality of the information in this article, the information may not be applicable in all situations. This discussion should not be relied upon in lieu of obtaining specific legal advice for specific situations.


NLG is a full service real estate and business litigation and transactional law firm providing the highest quality service and advice to national and local businesses and individual clients. The firm has the resources to handle large projects while providing clients with personal communication on all matters.

Within the field of real estate, the firm's services include: residential and commercial property purchases and sales; boundary, easement, and title matters; foreclosure problems and construction defects; commercial leasing; homeowner association disputes; environmental law; escrow law; and real estate brokerage law. The firm also provides estate planning.

Mark Nialis holds the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, signifying "very high to preeminent legal ability" and "very high general ethical standards." His solid reputation is the result of his commitment to provide clients with excellent legal services and client communication on a cost-efficient basis.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

*AV®, BV®, AV Preeminent® and BV Distinguished® are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer-review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general practice standards.

Email Us For A ResponseEmail Us For A Response

Let's Work Together To Achieve Your Goals

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Office Location

We are located in the Orange Tower, a Class A building with excellent freeway access and abundant free parking.

500 North State College Blvd., Suite 1200
Orange, CA 92868

Phone: 714-464-3408
Fax: 714-634-3869
Orange Law Office Map