Can homeowner evict roommate without signed agreement?

Can homeowner evict roommate without signed agreement?
Date Published: January 27, 2012

Dear Sue,
My mortgage payment was getting harder to make, so I ended up getting a roommate. I really regret it because he’s done nothing but drive me crazy! He eats everything in the kitchen, he’s messy and the television is on all night long! I can’t take it anymore.
I want to get him out but didn’t get a signed rental agreement. We had what I thought was a common sense agreement.
Do I have any rights? If so, is it going to be hard to get rid of him?
~Angry Al

Dear Al,
You have what is known as an oral agreement. In an oral rental agreement, you and the tenant agree orally that you will rent a room in your house. In addition, you agree on a specified amount of rent for a specified period of time —for example, $300 a week or a month.
This kind of rental agreement is legally binding on both you and the tenant, even though it is not in writing. However, if you have a disagreement with each other, you will have no written proof of the terms of your rental agreement. Therefore, it’s usually best to have a written rental agreement.
A lease states the total number of months that the lease will be in effect — for example, six or 12 months. Most leases are in writing, although oral leases are legal. If the lease is for more than one year, it must be in writing.
Since the oral agreement is legal, you will have the same rights that you would have if you had a written rental agreement. You do have the right to ask your roommate to leave.
I don’t know how long you have had this arrangement, but if it’s been less than a year you need to give your roommate a 30 — day written notice. If its been more than a year you need to give a 60 — day “written” notice.
You aren’t required to give a reason for giving the notice. Make sure that your roommate acknowledges receipt of the notice. You can ask him to sign for it or you can ask someone to personally witness the delivery.
Try to remember that your roommate has the right to live with you in peace until his time is up. Remain civil and avoid unpleasant exchanges. If he refuses to leave when his time is up, I would recommend that you call an attorney who could assist you with a formal eviction process.
Sue Thompson is the owner of HomeTown Realtors in Auburn. Email:, or at