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Eviction and Ejectment: What’s the Difference?


On the one hand, you know what a foreclosure is—when someone doesn’t pay a loan or mortgage on secured property the lender takes the property back and sells it pursuant to the terms of the mortgage. And you also likely know what an eviction is, when a tenant breaks a lease or isn’t complying with the terms of a lease, and the owner wants to take possession of the property back.

But what if someone is neither a homeowner who needs to be foreclosed on to remove him or her, nor is the person a tenant, that can be evicted?

The Ejectment Action

This does happen. In many cases, someone is on or using your property legally, with our consent and permission, but that person isn’t a tenant with a lease. And when you have to remove that person, neither a foreclosure or an eviction will work—you need what is known as an ejectment.

Ejectment is appropriate when anybody is on or using your property, claiming it as their own and preventing you, the owner, from taking possession of it, and they are doing so without permission or legal grounds. Imagine, for example, you buy property and the old owners are still living in the property.

How do you get them out? You can’t evict them—they’re not and never were your tenants. You would need an ejectment action.

This is often the case when boyfriend and girlfriend are living together, and then there is a breakup, but one or the other refuses to leave. They aren’t and never were landlords or tenants, so one can’t do an eviction against the other—they need an ejectment.

Legal Standards for Ejectment

In an ejectment action, the court merely looks to who has title to the property, and thus, more superior rights to the property. In some cases, this is a formality—it is often clear who has ownership or title to the property, with a right to remove the other person.  But other times, it isn’t so clear, and both sides have competing claims to ownership and possession of the property.

Sometimes the person who is being ejected, will try to claim that he or she was actually legally a tenant (you don’t need a written lease to be a tenant; the relationship may be inferred from the dealings and understandings of the parties). They do this because tenants have more legal rights, and Defendants often want those protections.

They may try to say that they were living in the property in return for services or favors or to assist the other person, and thus, there was consideration exchange just like a traditional lease.

Or, they may say there was some other contract between the parties allowing them the right to remain on the property. These are things that can often slow down an ejectment action and make it a more involved legal process.

We can help you with your ejectment case. Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today.



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