Friends Who Overstay Their Welcome. Now What?

Landlord, Tenant

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you let a friend stay in a home you own “just until [he] can find another place,” and several months later that person is still there?

The answer depends on whether or not a landlord-tenant relationship has been created.

Trespasser, Houseguest or Boarder?

In most situations, a person who was merely a “houseguest” who has overstayed his or her welcome and won’t get out after being asked to leave, is technically trespassing.

Guests or boarders have limited protections under the law. If the guest is a paying guest or boarder, when the house owner wants that person to move, he need only give notice equal to the time for which the occupancy is paid. So, for example, if your boarder or guest was paying weekly for a room, you need only give him or her 1 week’s notice to get out.


Tenants, on the other hand, have greater protections by law.

If the person paid you rent or gave you something of value in exchange for staying in your home, even if there is no written lease, a tenancy may have been created.

There does not need to be a formal written lease to create a tenancy. Someone who occupies rental property with the consent of the landlord (i.e., you) and pays rent or gives something of value in exchange for living there without a written lease, is called a “tenant-at-will.”

A tenant-at-will has the right to occupy and use the rented property according to the agreement between the landlord and the tenant. When the lease does not state when the tenancy will end, which is usually the case when there isn’t a written lease, in Georgia, the law requires that the landlord give the tenant 60 days’ notice before terminating the lease or changing any part of the agreement.

This means that the landlord must give 60 days’ notice if he wants the tenant to leave, or must give 60 days’ notice before increasing the rent.

However, that’s for a paying tenant. If a tenant-at-will does not pay the rent, the landlord can immediately file a dispossessory action in court—without giving notice that he is going to do so—as long as the landlord first demands possession of the property.

Legal Advice for Landlords and Tenants

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant you need to know your legal rights and responsibilities. At the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, our practice is concentrated on real estate and only real estate. Our experienced real estate attorneys can guide you and give you the legal advice you need, when you need it. Our offices are in Cumming, Georgia, and we serve Atlanta and a number of the surrounding counties including:  Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others.  You can contact us here or call us at 770-888-7707 to schedule your free phone consultation.

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