Nothing is sweeter than the feeling of new love. The air seems fresher, you constantly have a smile on your face, and life simply seems rosier because of how your new love makes you feel. But what happens when the person who was responsible for your joy is now making your daily living arrangements a living hell and the only joy that remains is two of you are not spouses. What does one do to remove a live-in paramour when the relationship has soured? How does one remove an ex, when divorce is not in play? Now granted, it is never wise to move in with another person, regardless of intimacy, without a written agreement that clearly states the responsibilities of each party for rents, utilities, and even what happens in the circumstance should the relationship end. However, hindsight is 20/20 and life often does not fit in a perfect little box. Nevertheless, the situation you now face, is you must now figure out some way to get your ex, who now refuses to leave, out of your home.
Now if you were in a divorce, you could seek, temporary orders and/or a divorce decree to get relief and get your ex out of your home. If you are facing domestic violence, from your now ex- live-in girlfriend or boyfriend, then a protective order can give you the right by judicial order to get the person out of your home and prohibit them from returning. However, when the situation does not involve spouses or domestic violence, the law is not as clear about what can be done to get a live-in ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to move out.
Why calling the police may not work?
Why can’t you just call the police and report them as trespassing on your property? It certainly makes sense, because the root of your problem is your live-in ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend is in your home, is no longer welcomed and refuses to leave. After all a trespass occurs when a person enters or remains on property of another without effective consent and the person had notice entry was forbidden or had notice to depart and failed to do so. Furthermore, calling the police will not cost you attorney fees and/or court costs.
But the problem that often arises in this situation is the person reporting the trespassing, must be able to demonstrate their superior right to possession of the home. Police officers have a duty to enforce laws which are clearly defined, written and/or codified. Now upon you calling the police, if your ex can show they get mail at your home, has their personal belongings there, have a copy of the house key or can otherwise show they at least have equal rights to be in your home because of your prior permission allowing them to live there, most police officers will not move further to eject the person. This is because there is a legal question as to if you have superior right to possession of the home. Because the right is not clearly on your side, there is no clear duty to enforce the law to remove your ex from the home. Under the Texas penal code, the person requesting an arrest for trespass must also demonstrate a superior right to possession of the property to enforce a request for removal from the property.
The rights to tenancy your ex may have and the legal complications for you.
Furthermore, your prior permission to allow your then girlfriend or boyfriend to live in your home as arguably now created a tenancy at will under Texas law. Once a tenancy is created, the person who is the tenant has rights to possession of the property as well. Under Texas law, a tenant at will is a person who had the right to live in the home for no determined period of time with the invitation of the landlord, lessor, or homeowner. A tenant at will does not have to leave the home unless evicted and is entitled to notice to vacate before eviction proceedings begin. A tenant cannot be locked out of the home and if the locks are changed, they are entitled to a copy of the keys to the new locks. It is also unlawful, to shut off utilities, or remove the front doors, to force the person to move. Failure to follow lawful eviction procedures could result in civil penalties against the property owner equivalent to one month’s rent plus $1000, actual damages, court costs, and/or reasonable attorney’s fees.
The Good News
The good news is a tenancy at will is terminable by either party for any reason upon reasonable notice. Once you give your ex written notice to vacate your home and you post it on the door to your home or mail it three days before filing an eviction suit, you will satisfy this requirement. To show proof in court, if you are going to post it on the door, take a picture with date stamp if possible. If sending by mail, while it is not required, certified mail will give you proof of your mailed notice. Your notice to vacate must state the following: 1) date the notice was served on your ex, your ex’s name(s) and your address, 2) the reason for the notice (that your ex no longer has your invitation to live in the home), 3) language that your ex has three days to move out, including the final date and time by which he or she must be out of the property, 4) notice that you may pursue an eviction lawsuit if they do not move, and 5) and language stating how the notice was given to your ex, (did you mail the notice, did you place it on the door etc.). If they have not moved by the timeframe given in the notice, then you may proceed with filing an eviction suit in your nearest justice of the peace court. To avoid any surprises, look up the filing fees and service fees on the justice peace’s website. Be prepared to present your proof of the notice to vacate.
Once you have obtained your judgment evicting your ex, that should make it amply clear they no longer have the right to live in your home. However, if he or she still will not leave your home, within six days of the eviction order, you can return to the justice court and, go get a writ of possession. A writ of possession is a court order, ordering a Texas peace officer to obtain possession of your property to remove your stubborn ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend and return possession to you the homeowner.
Life After Eviction
Now this article does not take into consideration if children are involved between you and your ex. In that situation, you do not want to repeat past mistakes. It is best to come to a clear agreement about, how possession and access to your children will work in the future, once the two of you no longer live together. Also make an agreement about child support, medical insurance or medical support, payment amount, date of first payment and how each payment should be made thereafter. Make sure that each of you have a written agreement that is signed by each of you, and preferably filed in a court of law. If you are unable to reach an agreement, make sure, you at least get an address where your child(ren) will be living if not with you. Then, seek the assistance of a family lawyer or the office of attorney general to get a written order entered in a court of law. It would be unwise to leave these issues unaddressed because they could subject you to no support if the child(ren) are in your care, and if not in your care, a nasty surprise for back child support in the future. Worst case scenario, ignoring these issues now could also lead to not knowing the whereabouts of your child(ren) and having no ability to see them in the foreseeable future.