Can property owners make you leave whenever they want to?

**** The information written here is not legal advice and the author of this blog is not your lawyer.  These posts merely contain ideas to help you plan and organize your legal research and identify potentially helpful sources of law. ****


Depending on the agreement between the homeowner and the homeless visitor and the way they have mutually come to their expectations and behaviors regarding the living space, the homeowner will usually have legal justification for abruptly ending a housing relationship with a non-paying tenant.[i]

The word “usually” appears here, because of that huge range of possibilities about their expectations and behaviors. It is certainly possible for a court to find that an actual landlord-tenant relationship has formed between a homeowner and a homeless visitor in which case the homeless visitor would be entitled to formal eviction proceedings.[ii]     

Even when a visitor has fully upheld his promises and the homeowner has not asked for additional obligations from the visitor, a homeowner can legally modify the contract by saying that as of a particular day, and it can be the same day because no statutes provide extra time for guests to be warned, he will no longer house the homeless person. In other words, he will not uphold his end of the bargain anymore. He is freeing the homeless person from his obligations. Not only that, he is informing the homeless person that even if he does honor his obligations, the homeowner will no longer honor his.

Once the homeowner has told him to leave, a homeless person will not succeed in a court case declaring that the homeowner breached the contract by not allowing him to stay through the winter even though he kept shoveling the snow. He will not be able to force the homeowner to continue housing him.  A court would likely find that as of the point that the homeowner decided to no longer provide housing, the visitor no longer had any obligation to shovel the snow.

In other words, shoveling snow no longer had the effect of being part of the housing deal. If the homeless person continued to do it without the homeowner’s promise to continue providing housing then the homeless person was simply doing the homeowner a favor, not ensuring that he would continue to get his housing.

[i]Jackson v. U.S. 357 A.2d 409 (D.C. 1976) (a girlfriend’s right to throw out her boyfriend was upheld by a court); Young v. D.C.752 A.2d 138 (D.C. 2000) (a property owner was allowed to have his son’s homeless unemployed friend ousted from an apartment even though he made token payments in exchange for the opportunity to stay there).

[ii]DeLay v. Douglas 164 S.W.2d 154 (Mo. Ct. App. 1942) (a tenant farmer who planted and tended wheat and barley crops in a year when he had no lease was entitled to keep half of the crop just as he had in the years when there was a lease between him and the landowner); Valdez v. Brookhaven 05-CV-4323 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (though a lease was found not to exist, the court did analyze due process rights connected with eviction.)

5 Replies to “Can property owners make you leave whenever they want to?”

  1. I have been homeless for about 2 months me my girlfriend my mom and my 6 year old sister we have been at a shelter for coming up on 30 days they said we have to leave on the morning of the 27th of april is there a law that forbids them from puttin us out on the street if we have our names on a waiting list for housing advice or if any one knows the law im talkin bout please email me at thank you or call me t 606-831-3366 any help greatly appreciated

  2. i have a custody of a grandchild and we had an unforunate situation happen and we r looking for a place to live near rossville ga and we cannot get any help. we have been helping at a camp in cleveland tennessee and im driving 200 miles a day to take him. we love ga and i found out i have diabeties and my husbvand has had sever healtyh issues. a # to reach me on 423-305-9475 i do not have signal at camp. my email is

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