Can my landlord evict me via trespass in Idaho?

If you are a tenant in Idaho, you are expressly exempt from being trespassed off the rental property you occupy. Idaho Code 18-7008 states in part the following:

Every person who willfully commits any trespass, by either . . .

(8) Every person, except under landlord-tenant relationship, who, being first notified in writing, or verbally by the owner or authorized agent of the owner of real property, to immediately depart from the same and who refuses to so depart, or who, without permission or invitation, returns and enters said property within a year, after being so notified.

Being part of a “landlord-tenant” relationship is key to meeting the trespass exemption. If that relationship has not yet been created or has ended by court order or termination of the lease term (provided proper notice is given) then the exemption does not apply. 


Image by David Niergarth on Flickr CC BY 2.0.

What makes a landlord-tenant relationship?

Typically, a lease creates a landlord-tenant relationship. A lease agreement can be written or verbal. As stated by the Idaho Attorney General, “[a]bsent a violation of public policy, the lease is the sole contract that will govern the landlord-tenant relationship for the duration of the tenancy.”

If the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship is in dispute, a tenant can look to prior behavior as evidence of the relationship. Acceptance of a security deposit or rent, previous lease agreements with the current or former property owner, or even consent to inhabit the rental are examples. 

Having a third party involved, such as a property management company, does not jeopardize the landlord-tenant relationship and, in fact, may add additional contractual obligations to the parties. 

Each landlord-tenant relationship “involves a unique set of circumstances.”

What types of tenancies exist?

As explained by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, there are typically four types of tenancies that are considered to be landlord-tenant relationships:

  1. Term of Years Tenancy: The relationship lasts for a fixed period which is agreed upon in advance by both the landlord and tenant. When the period ends, so do the tenant's possessory rights. In this relationship, the tenant has the right to possess the land, to restrict others (including the landlord from entering the land, and to sublease or assign the property).
  2. Periodic Tenancy: The relationship is automatically renewed unless the landlord gives advance notice of termination. In this relationship, the tenant has the right to possess the land, to restrict others (including the landlord from entering the land, and to sublease or assign the property).
  3. Tenancy at Will: There is no fixed ending period. The relationship continues for as long as the tenant and landlord desire.
  4. Tenancy at Sufferance: The tenant continues to inhabit the property after the lease expires.

Do lease violations end the landlord-tenant relationship?

Even if a tenant is not in full compliance with the terms of a lease, a court order or notice of termination is still required to end a landlord-tenant relationship. Said noncompliance includes being behind on rent. There is no language in the trespass statute regarding lease compliance, only that a landlord-tenant relationship needs to exist. It is crucial to note, however, that a tenant can be evicted for lease violations under Idaho Code 6-303 and that would end both the landlord-tenant relationship and trespass exemption.