SW Legal studies in Business

Innkeeper Can Use Self-Help to Evict Roomer Who Does Not Pay His Bill
Description Appeals court held that an innkeeper, who runs a hotel or rooming house, can use self-help to evict a non-paying tenant. In the District of Columbia, this is not the case for tenants who rent apartments from landlords. In that case, the landlord must go through judicial proceedings to evict a non-paying tenant.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Innkeepers; Landlords; Eviction; Self-Help
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Win Corp. runs the Allen-Lee Hotel, which was used as a rooming house. Harkins moved into the hotel in September as a weekly occupant. By April he had fallen behind on his payments and was told he would be evicted. He made no payments. The hotel changed the locks on the door to his room to lock him out. Harkins sued for wrongful eviction. The trial judge held that the common law remedy of self-help to evict a roomer was permissible. Harkins appealed.
Decision Affirmed. A transient-accommodation provider can use self-help as a way to evict a roomer for non-payment. There was no need to pursue judicial possessory action as would be required for a regular tenant. If Harkins had been a tenant, the landlord would have had to follow the statutory remedy to regain possession as provided by the law of the District of Columbia. To determine if an occupant is a tenant or a roomer, factors include whether the owner provides furnishings, linens, and maid service; the scheduled interval for payment; and the substance of the contract between the owner and the occupant.
Citation Harkins v. Win Corp., - A.2d - (2001 WL 421235, Ct. App., D.C., 2001)

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