Assisted Living

The short answer is yes. And in some states, assisted living facilities can evict residents with as little as a 45-day notice. While skilled nursing facilities are closely regulated by federal laws, assisted living facilities, or ALFs, are not. According to attorney Eric Carlson of the group Justice in Aging, “assisted living is governed by states, and regulations tend to be loosely drafted, allowing facilities considerable flexibility in determining whom they admit as residents, the care they’re prepared to give, and when an eviction is warranted.”

Inconsistent Regulations to Evict

Rules about evictions vary across the country, as assisted living facilities are usually regulated by state laws. Regulations about what kind of care assisted living facilities are required to provide are not always specific or consistent across states. State laws may allow the facility itself to determine what level of care they provide. The rules governing eviction aren’t consistent across the United States. Florida, for example, has some of the least restrictive discharge laws in the country. In that state, assisted living facilities only have to provide a 45-day written notice and a documented reason to evict a resident. Here are some of the most common reasons assisted living facilities evict residents.

The facility can no longer meet the resident’s needs

Assisted facilities may cite the reason for eviction as “we can’t take care of you any longer.” Even when the need for increased medical care is temporary (such as after an illness or hospital stay), some residents have been evicted for this reason. Because there are few rules about the level of care the ALFs must provide, this category can serve as a “catch all” for evictions. 

Resident is a danger to himself or others

This broad category can include many behaviors, from violence towards other residents and staff to smoking in the facility.

The residence closes

If the facility closes, ALFs aren’t required to help residents transfer to another facility.

How to Avoid a Surprise Eviction

Read admission contracts carefully and ask about discharge rules and procedures when you enter the facility. Read up on the laws about assisted living facilities and what levels of care they are required to provide in your state. Ask specific questions about what will happen when the resident’s medical needs increase. Get any answers in writing. To minimize the risk of a surprise eviction, stay in touch with the facility and get to know the staff. Address any warnings or concerns the staff have about your loved one before the situation gets serious. If you can’t be there regularly, consider hiring a care manager. You can also contact your local long-term care ombudsman – an advocate for residents of assisted living and other senior care facilities – for help navigating and understanding these laws.

How to Fight an Unjust Eviction

In most cases, without cause, a resident can’t be discharged. Assisted living facilities, or ALFs, can’t just kick someone out because of a personality conflict or challenging health care need. So if you feel like an eviction is unfair or unwarranted, you can fight it. However, it may not be easy. The appeals procedure may be unclear and hard to navigate, and you’ll probably need legal assistance.

In some states, the relationship between assisted living facility and resident is considered the same as a landlord and tenant. If a landlord wants to evict a tenant but the tenant refuses to leave, the “landlord” will have to go to court, and the “tenant” may argue their side of the case in front of a judge. In other states, the landlord-tenant law may not apply for assisted living facilities. Often, residents and their families challenge evictions they feel are unfair by invoking the Americans With Disabilities Act. Other residents have challenged evictions by bringing in the state’s landlord-tenant law.