If I lived with my mother but she is now in a nursing home, do I have any rights to regarding vacating her house?

She was taken by my sisters, 2 of whom have power of attorney, and was put into a nursing home. I was given about 5 weeks to vacate the house. With about 20 days left, my family came in and began cleaning things out, which included going through my stuff. do I have any rights when I do not pay rent?

Asked on July 12, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you do have rights. Your mother's POA is acting in her place, consequently, they are bound by what she would have been regarding your removal from the house. The fact is that whether or not you paid rent, you had the legal right to occupy it. Since you were invited to stay on the property and allowed to remain there, you are what is called in most states as a "licensee". Accordingly, you must be given proper notice to vacate the premises much like a tenant. If you do not comply and remain on the premises after the date specified for you to be out, then the POA must file an "ejectment" action (it's like an eviction lawsuit but for licensses not tenants). Then then must comply with all state mandated procedures before having you removed. In the meantime, they are not allowed to just enter and take your belongings, etc. The fact is that you may now be able to sue them for unlawful eviction and theft of property.

To be certain of your rights, you should consult directly with a local attorney who handles these type cases (i.e. landlord-tenant). They can best advise you further after hearing all of the details of your case. You can also try to contact a tenant's rights organization in your area (many times Social Services will have a list of who can help). Ad you can see if there is a law school nearby; they typically run free/low cost clinics that can assist tenants in need.


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