Can Our Landlord Evict Us to Move the Landlord's Family Member In?

Depending on the type of tenancy and the laws where you live, your landlord might be able to end your tenancy in order to move a family member into the rental.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

One of the main benefits of having a lease is the predictability and security it provides: Your landlord can't kick you out without a legally valid reason to do so. It makes sense that a landlord can end a tenancy when the tenant doesn't pay rent or breaks a material term of the lease. But what about when the landlord wants to move their family member into the rental—and doesn't want to wait until your lease is up? Is it legal for a landlord to evict a tenant simply so a family member can move in?

Depending on the following factors, it might be legally permissible for a landlord to terminate your tenancy to move the landlord's family member into the rental.

The Type of Tenancy

In most places, if you rent on a month-to-month basis, your landlord can terminate your tenancy for any nondiscriminatory reason, as long as they give you proper notice. Proper notice typically consists of a written notice that your tenancy will end within a certain time period. In most states, the required time period is at least 30 days.

If you have a fixed-term lease, on the other hand, your landlord must honor the lease for the length of the lease term. This means that you'll have the right to stay in the rental until the lease expires, at which time the landlord can refuse to renew the lease if they want you to move out. In most states, the only reasons a landlord wouldn't have to wait until the lease expires is if you don't pay rent, break a material term of the lease, or engage in criminal activity at the rental.

There are a few exceptions to these general rules, though, depending on your state's law.

State Laws Regarding Tenancy Termination

In areas without rent control, so long as your landlord follows the legal procedures for terminating the type of tenancy you have (for example, by providing 30 days' notice to end a month-to-month tenancy, or by waiting until your year-long lease expires), they can refuse to renew your lease or rental agreement so they can move their relatives into the unit.

What Happens in Areas With Rent Control

If you live in a state or city with rent control, however, other rules might apply. In most places with rent control, landlords aren't able to refuse to renew a month-to-month tenancy or a fixed-term tenancy without "just cause"—a legally recognized reason. This means that, barring a reason that constitutes just cause, you have the right to renew your tenancy for as long as you want.

Depending on the rent control law that applies to your rental, it is possible that a landlord's desire to move a relative into the rental constitutes just cause for ending your tenancy. Some places, such as California, call this "no-fault just cause." However, to be sure, you will need to research the applicable rent control laws.

The good news is that many areas with rent control impose special rules for landlords ending tenancies for relative move-ins. These rules tend to favor tenants. For example, the law might state that the landlord must give you a long notice period—such as 120 days—before terminating your tenancy. In some places, landlords must even help you with your moving expenses or reimburse you for some of the increased costs occasioned by your having to find a new rental. Also, in many places, a landlord can't move in a second cousin or some other far-removed relative; ordinances often limit the qualifying relatives to spouses, children, parents, and grandparents.

How Do I Know If My Area Has Rent Control?

The number of states and cities with rent control is limited; but the laws change frequently. As of 2024, Oregon, California, and New York have statewide rent control laws (Washington, D.C., has districtwide rent control as well). Some other states, such as Maryland and New Jersey, don't have statewide rent control but allow cities and counties to pass their own rent control laws. Consider contacting your city manager's office or visiting your state's housing division's website to find out more about any rent control laws in your area.

Can a Landlord Terminate Your Tenancy but Not Others?

When there are other tenants in your building, it might seem highly unfair that your landlord chooses to end your tenancy to move in their relatives, especially if you've been in the rental for a long time.

Unfortunately, you might never know why your landlord chose to end your tenancy—and it won't do you much good to know, unless the landlord chose you for discriminatory reasons such as your race, ethnicity, or religion. In that case, singling you out as the one to leave would be illegal.

Similarly, in most states it is illegal for a landlord to terminate your tenancy as retaliation for your standing up for your legal rights—for example, in response to your filing a complaint with local code enforcement about substandard conditions at the property.

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