Can a parent evict an adult child who regularly pays rent and contributes toward some household expenses?

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Can a parent evict an adult child who regularly pays rent and contributes toward some household expenses?

My friend lives with her mother – always has. She’s always held a steady job and pays her mother $700 monthly for room and board. She also pays 2/3 of their cable bill. She cooks for herself, shops for her own groceries, does her own laundry weekly, etc. She doesn’t bring anyone home overnight and has never been in trouble with the law. However she and her mother’s relationship has soured greatly. The mother is threatening to throw her out and the friend can’t afford a place of her own. Doesn’t the mother then have to get a court order to make her leave if the daughter isn’t causing trouble?

Asked on November 17, 2010 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This is an unfortunate situation. Since the daughter is an adult there is no responsibility for her mother to give her housing.  However, her mother cannot simply force her put. Since your friend has been paying rent, she will be considered to be a tenant in the eyes of the law. Accordingly, to remove her from the premises her mother will have to file a formal eviction proceeding (“unlawful detainer action”) as in any other landlord-tenant relationship. Additionally notice must be given before such a suit is filed. If your friend fails to leave by the requested date, her mother can then file an eviction action. If the judge agrees with her mother, then the court will issue an order for eviction (which will set a vacate date). If your friend refuses to leave in violation of the order, law enforcement can be called to remove her.

Note:  If her mother fails to comply with all required eviction procedures (e.g. changing the locks or physically removing your friend's belongings), she could find herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit for unlawful eviction.


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