YANAL, but how do I get this girl out of my house?
February 25, 2019 6:47 AM   Subscribe

Took in a friend who was in a rough spot about four months ago. She refuses to leave or pay rent. How do I evict her safely and legally? Lots of details inside.

See previous asks for full background info. Last year I met someone who was going through a terrible situation-- dire poverty, eviction, domestic violence. I took her in after watching her suffer for a few months and feeling helpless to do anything about it. The first few months were mostly fine. We had a few typical roommate spats and she leaned on me way, way more than I was capable of handling. But other than that I felt it was an ok price to pay for helping someone who really needed it.

Then things started coming out -- she was avoiding meetings with her social worker and she wasn't looking for a job. At all. Like, not even a little bit looking for a job. I tried to get her a job where I work, where I'm friendly with the managers and could have put in a good word. She wasn't interested.

In early January I reached a point of being done with it all, and told her she had to move out by January 31st. On Jan 31st a huge snowstorm came through and I felt like a jerk putting someone on the street in below zero weather. So she stayed.

I thought that when the weather improved she'd be gone. She started spending more time staying over at another friend's house. I was sure she was going to leave. I got her a storage locker (I know, I know) and paid through the first month. Helped her move some of her stuff.

Still would come home and find her playing games on her phone. I slightly lost it with her about a week ago. I showed her a text I sent her back in October saying I could only put her up for one to two months. She blew up at me. Yelling, screaming, in my face, saying that I'm disrespectful, that I'm a huge loser (I don't know why this was relevant) who is making up grudges against her because I hate my own life. (I... ok)

I left. I'm staying with a friend now. She posted some vague threats on Facebook about what she wants to do to me (beat me up, mostly). Then she unfriended me.

How do I evict her without this escalating into a huge deal? I've heard a wide range of answers from other people in my life, some telling me to go to the police and get a restraining order.... which seems a little extreme, plus I hate cops as a general rule. Other people have told me she'll get over it and I should try to work things out with her.

I'm not really interested in working things out but I don't want to go all DEFCON5 over this. For one, I stand to lose as much as she does. There is an archaic law on the books in my jurisdiction that allows landlords to evict both parties in any domestic violence situation.

I'm also hosting her under the table, in violation of the terms of my own lease. I think I can fix that by getting her an occupancy permit but that ties her to me EVEN MORE, which is the last thing I want.

Can I just go to the county courthouse and get an eviction notice and serve it to her? My building manager, a pretty cool dude, thinks he can just lock her out. Technically I've given her way more than thirty days notice to vacate, and it is in writing. (Over text.) Does that count as a "notice" so I can just lock her out now? Or should I get a lawyer, draw up a formal notice, make sure my own rights are protected, etc. She hasn't paid rent at all and she and I have no contract. The apartment is solely in my name.

I know you are not my lawyer. But I am seeking opinions on a) whether my notice over text counts as an official notice to move and I can perform a 'self-help eviction' in a way that might stand if it was challenged in court (bearing in mind she doesn't have the money to come after me) b) whether I should do everything by the book here.
posted by coffeeand to Law & Government (44 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Can you provide your location (city & state)? Your answer will vary greatly by jurisdiction.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:52 AM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks- St. Louis MO
posted by coffeeand at 6:54 AM on February 25, 2019

You need to get a lawyer in your jurisdiction. You cannot rely on advice from AskMe to determine how to protect your legal interests, because that would be legal advice and that is something that cannot be provided here. You can also contact a hotline for survivors of domestic violence, because they can offer you support and may be able to help you find a free or low-cost attorney.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:57 AM on February 25, 2019 [14 favorites]

Not to threadsit, but what kind of lawyer do I need? I tried the domestic violence hotline and they didn't know.
posted by coffeeand at 7:00 AM on February 25, 2019

To help determine the type of lawyer needed, you can contact the Lawyer Referral Service in St. Louis, MO.
At Lawyer Legion, we recognize the important role that lawyer referral services play in helping the public find a local and qualified attorney in St. Louis, Missouri. The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL) sponsors a Lawyer Referral and Information Service that helps the public and businesses find an attorney
It sounds like you need an attorney familiar with landlord/tenant issues, as well as protection orders, so they can advise you on your options based on your specific circumstances and legal interests.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:08 AM on February 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Wait, you're no longer in your place and this person you tried to help is threatening you? This is not your friend and stopped being your friend quite a while ago; she is now in full on enemy territory.

Normally I'd say lawyer up, but lawyers cost money.

You're on the lease, and she has never paid rent and has no business relationship or other agreement with you or the actual landlord? It's your word against hers how long she's been there? This isn't a vampire situation - she is trespassing and MO is a stand-your-ground state. She's lucky she didn't find you waiting there with a shotgun.

Not a big fan of the cops, but yeah it's Cop Time. Go there with them and sympathetic building manager. Change the locks, let her know that if she shows up she's going to jail.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:21 AM on February 25, 2019 [38 favorites]

The simplest solution will be to do what the sympathetic building manager says: just lock her out while she’s out. This woman doesn’t have money for a lawyer and I can’t imagine the cops will intervene, so anything more formal seems like a waste of time and money.
posted by crazy with stars at 7:28 AM on February 25, 2019 [30 favorites]

At a minimum you need to go there with a cop or at least a trusted friend and retrieve your valuables ASAP.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:29 AM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

It will be uncomfortable but yes have the building manager change the locks, tell her after the locks are changed that she's not welcome, if she shows up call the cops, aspersioncasts's advice is spot on.
posted by lafemma at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Honestly you know this person and we don’t. What gets her out? A bus ticket to somewhere warm where she has family? A week in a motel? If you have any leverage like this it’s worth using it to get her out in the immediate future and then change the locks.

If she literally has no where to go she’s desperate and desperate people do crazy things. If you can afford to make her feel better about leaving it’s likely to be worth it. No, it’s not fair, but I’m a situation like this there’s fair and there’s practical and practical needs to win.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:36 AM on February 25, 2019 [12 favorites]

The advice to just lock her out is almost always illegal, although not unethical in my opinion, BUT - does she have any evidence she has lived there? Is she getting bills there? Is she registered there with the social worker? Because if she has evidence she has lived there and would legally be considered a tenant, and you lock her out and she sues you, you are screwed.

I would start talking to a lawyer. A restraining order could include ordering her out of your apartment, I would look into it, she has literally threatened you out of your own place - DEFCON5 is deserved.
posted by stillnocturnal at 7:40 AM on February 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

I think you're all the way up to DEFCON 1 on this one, frankly.

Your friends who are telling you to get over it and work it out with her are waaaaaay off the mark, to the point of absurdity. This woman has driven you out of your own home and is threatening physical violence against you. I understand you don't like cops, but I would go to them first rather than futzing around with lawyers. I don't know anything about Missouri law, but I'd bet folding money that you have a legal right to evict someone immediately if you're living in the same house with someone and she threatens you with physical harm.
posted by holborne at 7:52 AM on February 25, 2019 [13 favorites]

As a follow up, you likely have several options, including ones that could have her removed from your residence today - the main question when consulting with a local attorney is which option best serves your legal interests in this context and the variety of concerns you are raising.

It should not be particularly expensive to consult with a local attorney about the options that exist locally and how to proceed. Typically, the courts (not the police) issue orders of protection for people who have been cohabitating, but it may be much simpler to serve a notice against trespass that you can draft yourself, depending on how and whether this can be enforced in your jurisdiction. Much depends on the local and state laws, but an attorney with experience in these areas should be able to quickly help you sort this out.

If you haven't contacted a local hotline for survivors of domestic violence, you may want to follow up with them for help with finding an attorney, as well as local support and advocacy with the police.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

You should just lock her out with the building manager. She hasn't paid any rent; she's your guest and you're done having her as a guest. I wouldn't overthink the legal issues - does this seem like the sort of person who is going to take the time/money/effort to make some kind of legal claim (even assuming there is any claim to be made?).
posted by Mid at 8:12 AM on February 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

She may have legal standing even though she is a guest, and there may be free legal help for her if you lock her out unlawfully. Do not pay for anything for her, like food, but don't shut off water or heat. You might be able to legally shut off wifi, but check. If there's a legal aid office that offers help to tenants, call them, explain, and they might give you the name of a lawyer.

You were kind and wanted to help and it really sucks that you are being abused this way. But thank you for being a kind person.
posted by theora55 at 8:27 AM on February 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Her social worker or another social worker or a pro bono attorney might make it an issue, if her other option is homelessness. I mean, if I were her social worker, I would make it an issue. I’d have great sympathy for OP but buying my client time off the streets would be priority one. And no offense but OP is a soft touch and that will motivate this strategy, too, because I wouldn’t expect her to do things like countersue for rent owed or whatever.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:28 AM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Most jurisdictions will let you break a lease in a domestic violence situation. Why not just break the lease and move out yourself. Get a new place and start over. Seems a lot simpler than going through an eviction process which might take months.
posted by brookeb at 8:45 AM on February 25, 2019

I can't speak to the legality of any of this, just jumped in to say that if you do lock her out, maybe continue staying with your friend for another week or two, and/or vary your routine and/or park your car somewhere not in your usual place, both at home and at work. She may not pursue the living situation legally if she gets locked out, but given that she's threatened you I'd bet good money she's not above keying your car or slashing your tires.

Be sure to change all of your passwords in your various accounts. Have your mail held for pick up at the post office for a few weeks so she can't intercept any of it and start messing with your accounts.

Get in good with your neighbors now so they don't let her into the building after she gets locked out.
posted by vignettist at 8:50 AM on February 25, 2019 [11 favorites]

I am utterly not a lawyer but I think you need to talk to a lawyer before changing the locks. I think after a month, in some places, the person has rights even if they are a terrifying asshole.
posted by Smearcase at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Here in Minnesota, getting a restraining order against the other occupant is the fastest way to get them out of the residence. Going through the eviction process takes time. Once you get a restraining order the cops show up to remove the person and that's that.

So, if this woman has threatened you and forced you out of your own residence, I'd consult with legal aid or a lawyer about getting a restraining order and see if it's doable.
posted by Lunaloon at 8:56 AM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Start with whatever tenants' rights organization you have access to. Your squatter likely has some rights in this situation and you certainly do. But you may face difficulties because it was against your lease to have her there in the first place and because she's potentially violent. It's not fair, but it is what it is. And that's why the advice of a tenants' right organization is better than our advice.

Bear in mind, of course, there's fair and there's legal; there's the worst thing that could happen and the most likely thing to happen. It may be that the easiest and swiftest resolution is the not entirely procedurally correct one. But you need the advice of a professional to determine the risks and trade offs.

I am really sorry you are in this position. I hope it gets resolved soon.
posted by crush at 9:11 AM on February 25, 2019

The clause in your lease purportedly forbidding you to have a long-term guest may or may not even be legal. (It would not be in NYC, for example.)

This is definitely a situation where you need to understand the legal landscape before acting. As crush says, the best course of action may or may not turn out to be the one that a lawyer might design for maximum legal unimpeachability, but, until you know the specific laws applying to your situation, it's hard to say. But, yes, you are staying with friends because this woman has threatened you in your own house. It's DEFCON 1 time.

(Also, if you have any pets, get them OUT OF THERE.)
posted by praemunire at 9:28 AM on February 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

AskMe is a great resource, but it can't give you a licensed Missouri lawyer who feels sufficiently protected by liability insurance to give you candid legal advice, free. You should be able to get that here. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 10:02 AM on February 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

I left. I'm staying with a friend now.

either you take this up with the cops as a domestic violence situation, or you throw yourself on the mercy of your landlord and try to make it their problem (which could of course result in your own eviction).

it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to do any kind of DIY eviction without involving law enforcement in some capacity. bribing her to leave might work, but it also might further cement your 'easy mark' status with her and invite further harassment the next time she needs something.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:25 AM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

How do I evict her without this escalating into a huge deal?

Just to reinforce what others have said: this is already a huge deal, and you are the one suffering. Use the excellent resources above to protect yourself, and treat this like the big deal it is. Don't wait.
posted by davejay at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

Nthing that this is already a big deal.

Just as a heads up, if your landlord gets involved or catches wind of this, they may terminate your lease. Landlords hate drama, instability, and people that might damage the property out of spite so keep the possible need to find a new place in the back of your mind.
posted by Candleman at 11:15 AM on February 25, 2019

You need a lawyer who does landlord/tenant stuff. Try Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, they seem to do some free or low-cost work for people who can't afford much, and if they can't help you then they may be able to refer you to someone who can. The Missouri State Bar Association will also have information.

Given that she's threatening you and it's gotten to the point where you've had to leave your home, you're in restraining order territory. I get that cops are the worst (seriously, I have scars) but if this is what you need to do to get her out, then do that. But talk to a lawyer first, and do what they say.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:19 AM on February 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would stop paying the bill on the storage unit.
posted by AugustWest at 1:00 PM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

People who make their "living" off mooching can be very aware of their legal rights when it comes to mooching. I'd contact the lawyer before locking her out.
posted by dripdripdrop at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

“Landlords hate drama, instability, and people that might damage the property out of spite so keep the possible need to find a new place in the back of your mind.” This is important.

The above advice is great from a legal perspective, but in reality I’d pack her things up wait for her to leave and change the locks. Yeah it isn’t legal but cops aren’t stupid and will get what’s going on if she’s as unstable as you make her sound. I doubt an attorney would want take a case of a tenant not signing a lease, having no mail shipped there, etc and claiming tenancy.

She’ll find someone else to mooch off of shortly

Again, I’d be much more concerned about your landlord’s relationship with you at this point. Just change the locks. Heck if you have to lure her out to do it, do it.
posted by geoff. at 1:39 PM on February 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Agreeing, consult with a lawyer.

"My building manager, a pretty cool dude, thinks he can just lock her out."

SO NOT LEGAL ADVICE: if you have a good relationship with cool dude and he's sympathetic to your plight, then [the story is] you've both been evicted. She's out as she's not on your lease, you're out for long-term hosting in violation of your lease, you're both locked out... and a couple of days later you get your new key and resume living in your home.

(I remember your previous question. I'm so sorry the situation has deteriorated so much, and I still admire you for trying to help someone this way.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:19 PM on February 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

Does your lease say anything about how long guests can stay? Many do and that could also be helpful.
posted by quince at 6:15 PM on February 25, 2019

There's probably no easy and clean solution here. Like much of life, this is 75 percent about the practicalities and 25 percent about the legalities. Any landlord-tenant lawyer will begin by advising the LL to figure out how to get the tenant to leave voluntarily. You hear landlords recommend Cash for Keys even in situations where they have the legal right to evict because waiting 25 to 90 or more days and spending $300-1500 or more in fees (not counting the attorney costs) is worse than just coming to an agreement with the tenant.

Getting her a storage locker (assuming you didn't sign yourself up as a long term financial guarantor!) was actually a good move. Think about all your other options to get her to voluntarily move out. Could someone else from your community offer to put her up (under a very limited agreement)? Does she want a bus ticket to go back to her sister in Florida? It shouldn't be your responsibility, but this is just damage control at this point. Maybe she's left already!

Thinking pragmatically about your situation, it also seems to me that if your landlord is willing to lock her out, the likelihood of her being able to sue you for it is low. I dunno; you could get a lawyer's second opinion on this. Personally, in his shoes, I certainly wouldn't do that; it probably IS illegal; and if I were your landlord, sorry to say but I would likely be construing this as your problem to solve (after checking in with our lawyer). But I'd be surprised if you had an affirmative duty to prevent him from illegally locking her out. And your guess is as good as mine as to what could happen if she comes back at him with a letter from a pro bono attorney notifying him that (a) she has tenants' rights so she must be allowed to return immediately and/or (b) he now owes her $X for having tried to illegally evict her. How likely is she to get that to happen?

In my area, one legal(?*) path (* I'm not a lawyer and especially don't know the law around DV situations) would be for him to serve your unit with a "3 day notice to cure [fix a problem] or quit," notifying you that either youb need to stop breaching your lease by having an additional tenant, or you need to leave, in three days. Would that give you the emotional leverage you need to get her out? After that, he'd have to file in court and start paying court fees, and the fact of this having been filed against you might (?) turn up in background checks during future efforts of yours to get rental housing. (This is what probably stymies Iris Gambol's clever answer; evicting you both legally still costs the LL money that they'd probably want you to repay and still messes up your future background checks.)

Good luck and let us know what happens.
posted by slidell at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You've gotten to know some things about her. Use the knowledge.

Things in her toolbox:
yelling, not leaving when asked, making threats, telling sob stories, taking handouts, bamboozling kind-hearted people into helping her

NOT in her toolbox:
applying to jobs, filing papers in court, showing up to court

You need to guard against her convincing others to use violence (e.g. beating down doors) using false stories that you've mistreated her.

You almost certainly won't need to worry about her filing papers in court and then actually showing up in court.

Practically, you just need to be the less easy option. Beware the extinction burst. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. Your attempt at generosity is admirable.
posted by dum spiro spero at 9:26 PM on February 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh, no -- I meant the sympathetic building manager's going through the motions (sans filings) to oust the abusive friend. (And without involving the police.) Friend's not good with paperwork, may be unlikely to pursue legal remedies, and should simply move on (especially because, in her understanding, coffeeand won't be there paying the rent). OP's not actually evicted, and gets the new keys to their apartment in short order.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:27 PM on February 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Framing this as a domestic violence situation is getting you stuck. You need to stop thinking about it like that, and approach it as having a squatter.

Your strengths:
The building manager is willing to change the locks for you. This means they are going around the landlord, to PROTECT YOU. The landlord does not have to get involved with an expensive and annoying eviction.

Also a strength: your squatter is not savvy. They can get stuff out of people, but not institutions. As others have pointed out, they are not capable of paperwork.

You abandoned your home to your squatter. Why, because you are afraid of the police and also afraid of getting evicted? If you take the building managers help, the police and landlord won't need to get involved.

Your weaknesses: you are so committed to doing the right thing by society that you are paying rent on an apartment you can't live in. Um..stop doing that. This squatter isn't thinking legally. They haven't paid you rent and threatened to beat you up. So stop thinking legally and start thinking pragmatically. Why? Because if the pragmatic solution doesn't work, then your legal solution becomes your next option, and that one is expensive and time consuming. So Plan A, be pragmatic. Plan B, get legal if Plan A fails.

What is Plan A.
Go to apartment with building manager and a big friend and $300.
While the locks are being changed, you and friend pack up squatters stuff.

If squatter is there, say you will give her $300 if she leaves. If not you will call police and no $300 and you will empty the storage locker and put everything on the street today.

If squatter is not there, put her stuff and the money in the storage locker. When squatter contacts you, tell her you put the stuff and $300 in the storage locker. See how fast she goes to see!

Locks are changed. Breathe easy.

On the last day of storage locker lease, empty it and put it curbside.
posted by perdhapley at 11:41 PM on February 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thank you so much everyone! All of your input has helped me... sort of... formulate a plan. I'm going to look into Get A Lawyer option. Thank you for linking me to resources-- it may sound dumb, but I was utterly lost for how to even BEGIN going about finding a lawyer. Your suggestions there helped a lot. After the initial consulting session I'll decide, based on what they say, whether it's worth pursuing the legal eviction, or whether it's just best to do a lockout.

Additional info: whoever said upthread that this person is a professional squatter who knows her rights.... ding ding ding. I had not realized her extensive history with getting other people to pay her rent before I took her in. She may not sound it, but she is savvy.
posted by coffeeand at 8:17 AM on February 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

Landlord here. In some states, you're a legal tenant if you walk in the door, sit down, and say you are. The police are very reluctant to evict someone that says: "This is where I live. I have nowhere else to go." By getting the police involved, you may inadvertently establish her legal residency.

The legal process of eviction takes time, several months, even a year. Afterwards, if you want back pay for rent, you need to take them to court. You may lose. The fact that you have no lease or written agreement with your friend is not good news. Contrary to what most people think, a lease protects the landlord's rights, not the tenant's.

In other words, tread very carefully here. If your friend is savvy to all of these rules, and is prepared to use them against you... it's not good. If you know a third party friend that can intervene and negotiate what she wants to leave... that's often best.

She's painting you as a monster, in her own mind and online, to justify what she's about to do to you. If you can think of someone who can shame her into being reasonable, someone she will trust and respect, use them. In my experience, a successful ploy is to get a family member involved. A close friend may work too. Be open to taking a quick financial hit that will save you money, pain, and time over the long run.
posted by xammerboy at 10:44 AM on February 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

>whether it's just best to do a lockout.

You need to be very clear in your head: it is not you who is doing the lockout. Lockouts are illegal. Lockouts are one of the clearest-cut types of cases in which tenants get landlords to pay them thousands of dollars. Stand way clear of this.

In general, you need to be minimizing your legal responsibilities and liability here. It's great that you're going to talk to a lawyer because the right strategy really does depends on local law that we don't know.

But when it comes to lockouts, that's a real no-brainer. If it happens, your position needs to be, you let a friend move in because it was an emergency. Then your building manager locked her out illegally. What could you do?? You're not a police officer or judge. You're just another helpless tenant at risk of being evicted yourself. If there's a big paper trail of you asking him to do this on your behalf, then you should retract the request.
posted by slidell at 8:33 PM on February 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've had people that were hard to get rid of before, but none ever crossed the line like this one. As somebody else said, she is now on the enemy list, and that means when the gloves come out you fight to win. IMHO, there is no shame in using dirty tricks to end this quickly. In fact I would compare it to ripping off a band-aid. You can deal with this in a direct manner, or you can be sneaky. You are justified whatever you choose. Does she do drugs? Does she have a jealous lover? Has she ever been busted for a DUI? These are all things that you can use if you are careful and creative. Myself, I can tolerate a lot, but when somebody crosses that line things change. You know what won't work? Staying away from your own house to avoid conflict. Like it says in The Art Of War, it's best not to fight, but if you have to fight, get it over with quickly. Be careful, and let us know how it turns out.
posted by ambulocetus at 6:51 PM on February 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't think it is so obvious that having the locks changed equals a "lockout" equals a legal violation in this situation or in this jurisdiction. The OP is getting legal advice, so that should answer the question for her in her jurisdiction. But I think that people saying that it would obviously be illegal to change the locks are overconfident about that position. Landlord/tenant rules vary widely in different jurisdictions. Experiences in cities with tenant-friendly laws are not necessarily going to translate to other jurisdictions (especially smaller cities or more conservative areas, which may cover this particular part of the St. Louis metro). This sort of thing can vary by city/county laws (not just state laws), so very local advice is going to be the best advice.

My own hunch (now I'm guessing, so take it for what it is worth) is that in less tenant-friendly jurisdictions, a person who has a non-rent-paying guest who overstays their welcome could have the locks changed without violating the law. It isn't clear to me that every jurisdiction would treat the guest as a tenant with tenant's rights without any lease and any rent paid. I also think it may be a mistake to think about the OP as being bound by whatever rules apply to landlords as far as lockouts and such -- the OP may not be subject to the same rules because the OP may not be considered to be in the "landlord" position under the law. I.e., if I am renting an apartment and have a guest, my relations with that guest may not qualify as a landlord/tenant relationship in terms of the way the local rental law is written.

My bottom line on all of this is that I, personally, would be comfortable with the lock-out scenario because this person does not seem to present a real risk of a legal claim. But, if we are putting aside the practicalities and asking solely what the legal rights/duties on the OP are, I would say that we can't really know that without studying the local law.
posted by Mid at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree with almost all of what Mid says. There are a number of important distinctions: are non-paying residents not on the lease "tenants" at all; if so, who is the landlord (the building owner or OP); if it's OP, then how does the fact that this is a guest within the very place she is living change the person's rights; and so on. Some of that may even be subject to debate, where a lawyer for this guest would present one view and a lawyer for OP would have another. A lawyer in this jurisdiction can help her figure out these variables and identify the fastest route to an empty home. That fastest route may surprise us (e.g., it may be best for OP to be the LL because then it's an owner-occupied situation and/or because she was threatened).

My only point above is that OP shouldn't go around construing this in the worst possible light for herself, actively putting herself in the role of a landlord directing a lock out eviction. Self help evictions are not allowed in Missouri. Mid is right that changing the locks may or may not be illegal, but "a landlord evicting a tenant by changing the locks" is not allowed. So whether or not the locks get changed, OP should be a bit careful about how she talks and writes about this.
posted by slidell at 9:37 PM on March 1, 2019

She out yet? I hope you got your pad back!
posted by speakeasy at 11:41 AM on March 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

A quasi-update here.
posted by crazy with stars at 10:57 AM on April 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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