A question I hear quite often is whether an individual is able to “evict” another individual from their property. It is important for individuals to understand that eviction is not the only process one can use to remove an individual from their property, and in some instances, suing to wrongfully evict someone can prove to be costly. Before taking action to remove someone from your property, it is important to note the differences between actions for eviction, unlawful detainer, and ejectment.
Most individuals are familiar with a typical eviction action wherein a landlord files suit against a tenant to have the tenant removed from the landlord’s property. However, very few are aware of situations where the actions of unlawful detainer and ejectment become necessary. An action for unlawful detainer arises when an individual whom once had permission to reside on the owner’s property, is no longer welcome but refuses to leave. A scenario that often gives rise to this particular action is when a homeowner allows their significant other to “move in,” a falling out occurs between the parties, and the non-homeowner partner in the relationship refuses to leave. While unlawful detainer is an appropriate action to remove a no-longer welcomed individual who remains on your property, it may not be used to remove an individual from your property who claims some ownership interest in the property.
Ejectment and unlawful detainer are often confused with each-other, however, ejectment differs from unlawful detainer in that an action for ejectment must be used when the party sought to be removed claims an ownership interest in the property. Generally, ejectment actions arise when the individual sought to be removed claims to have contributed money for the purchase of the property, but their name is not on the deed to the property. To be successful in an action for ejectment, a party must present the chain of title that led to their ownership of the property, and said chain of title must be stronger than the opposing parties chain of title, if any.