What qualifies someone to be a legal tenant?

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What qualifies someone to be a legal tenant?

Does there have to be a rental agreement/lease? Does a child of the owner living with him/her qualify as a tenant? If the owner passes away can the son/daughter continue living there? Can the executor of the Trust make the son/daughter leave or must he follow the eviction process? Wouldn’t the son/daughter have a right to stay since the father wanted them there in the first place? Very confused as to what my rights are as I am the son who was living with my elderly father and basically taking care of the things he was physically unable to do. He died rather unexpectantly of a massive heart attack and his brother, my uncle, was given the role of executor.

Asked on October 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

To be a tenant, you have to pay rent--if you do, you are a tenant. Note, however, if that if there is no written lease, just an oral or verbal one, you are a month-to-month tenant, and therefore can have your tenancy terminated (and then be evicted) on 30 days notice by either the owner or by his estate  (executor) after his death. If there was a written lease, you may stay there for the remaining term of the lease, even if the owner dies, as long as you owner your obligations under it (e.g. pay rent).

If you are not paying rent, you are a guest. If you are a guest, you may be be evicted at any time, by the property owner or by his estate (i.e. by the executor), without prior warning or notice; that is, you can be asked to leave at any time, and if you don't you could be evicted. The wishes of the owner prior to his death do not matter, if he did not put those wishes in writing in some legally enforceable way (e.g. by giving you the property, or at least a "life estate" in it, in his will).

 


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