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legalgems, attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
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It's joy. When does a guest who pays no bills, rent, has no

Customer Question

Hi. It's joy. When does a guest who pays no bills, rent, has no verbal or written agreement, become a tenant in oakland, ca
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: My father has dementia. I'm his conservator. A sibling from out of state came a few months ago to "visit", but was living w/ her boyfriend primarily, although she had a few clothes & cosmetics in my father's room. I asked her to remover her things, as my father is now on hospice & we need the room for a hospital bed, etc & she is refusing to do that & put a lock on the door a few days ago
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Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  legalgems replied 6 months ago.

My sympathies for your family's situation.

It really comes down to the particular circumstances of the case. For example, the court would look at the following factors:

who has direct control over the premises, who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the premises, who has keys to the premises, whether rent is paid, and length of occupancy.

If the court deems the person to be a guest, then there is no notice required; if the court determines they are a tenant, then the landlord would need to comply with the eviction process.

A tenancy at will (consensual- based on both party's consent) is not based on an express rental agreement. It’s created when a tenant takes possession of the premises with the landlord’s permission, but for no stated term and without payment of rent. (Covina Manor, Inc. v. Hatch (1955) 133 CA2d Supp. 790, 793. According to CC 789, this require a 30 day notice:

789. A tenancy or other estate at will, however created, may be terminated by the landlord's giving notice in writing to the tenant, in the manner prescribed by Section 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to remove from the premises within a period of not less than 30 days, to be specified in the notice.

If however, the person would occasionally spend the night, courts are less likely to find a tenancy, and will typically label that person a guest.

But the presumption is houseguest, versus tenancy, if less than 30 days:


First of all, a person gains tenancy (or becomes a tenant) in an apartment by living there for 30 days and paying rent. They also gain all rights under rent control (if their building is under it) and state law. No actual written lease is needed in order to be a tenant. Of course, it is better to have something in writing to be able to prove the terms of your tenancy. A tenant in an SRO (Single Room Occupancy hotel) gains her rights under state law after 30 days and her rights under the rent ordinance after 32 days.

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