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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 30167
Experience:  Attorney
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We moved into my mothers home per her request due to her not

Customer Question

We moved into my mothers home per her request due to her not being able to afford the home and she fied bankruptcy. We had a house fire and now have been displaced however now that money may ve coming in due to our contents possibly being total loss due
to our smoke damage she's told us she is refusing to give us any reimbursement money because she is the policy holder and that we should have got renters insurance thou that was not the agreement and its not in written form and she has asked us to not move
back once the home has cleaned and rebuild. Is she allowed to keep any reimbursement money pertianing to our contents this inclues mine, wife and children. Please advise
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

What state are you in? Did you have any sort of written lease agreement? Are you paying rent? (Or were you, before the fire?)

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We live in California no there was no lease nor any type of agreement since she was losing the house she needed for my wife and I to move in and help out before she lost the house. As of this month July no we have not payed anything towards the mortgage since she had mortgage protection insurance and we are staying at home that is payed by the home insurance. Yes I would give her 600 a month that went towards the mortgage payment which included the insurance payment as well
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.

If you're staying with your mother and paying her rent, you're legally a tenant. And what the law says is that a landlord is not responsible for the destruction of a tenant's belongings, unless your mother had somehow done something that caused the fire. (Then she'd be liable for burning your belongings, not as a landlord). Rent usually covers the mortgage, taxes, and insurance, but that doesn't give the landlord any obligation to insure the contents of the property - only the exterior. It unfortunately is your responsibility to have renter's insurance to cover those items, unless you specifically agreed that she would add your belongings to her insurance policy.

Now, if she included the value of your items when submitting a claim to the insurance company, that's fraud. It's actually a crime. The insurance company might be interested to know if that's what happened. But in order to have any sort of claim against your mother, you'd need evidence that she agreed to insure your items. You'd also need to be able to establish what part of the check she got was your belongings instead of hers (or the house itself).

It would be conversion to include the value of your items in the claim to the insurance company and then keep the money. Or, if she told you not to get your own policy, then she'd be liable under a theory of promissory estoppel. In that type of scenario, you'd be able to sue for a portion of the money from the insurance policy.

It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Thank you.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
This is what I found my husband is her son and as I said she asked us to move in with her to help and told us eventually that the house once out of chapter 13 would put hin on the title. Well since money is coming in she no longer needs us and evicted us.Named insuredEvery homeowners policy lists a named insured. This person is the individual primarily insured under the policy and is usually the same person named on the deed as the owner (if the house is jointly owned, both people should be listed as the named insureds). The named insured receives the most extensive coverage under the homeowners policy--property insurance, personal property insurance, and liability insurance. If something happens to your home (e.g., a storm shatters your windows, a car crashes through your fence), you'll be the one to make the claim with the insurance company.
Who Is Covered under Your Homeowners Policy?
To understand who is covered under your homeowners policy, it's helpful first to understand what homeowners insurance covers. Basically, homeowners insurance covers your home and other physical structures on the property (property insurance), your personal belongings (personal property insurance), and liability resulting from bodily injury or property damage suffered by others in connection with your property (liability insurance). Your homeowners policy protects more than just the owner of the house. But depending on who you're talking about, they may not be covered in all three areas.SpouseIf your spouse resides in the home, he or she is covered by personal property and liability insurance, even if he or she isn't identified in the policy.
Children and other residentsAny individuals who live in the home are also covered by personal property and liability insurance if they are related to you (e.g., your children, an aging parent) or if they are under 21 years of age and in the care of any member of your family. So, if your daughter moves back in with you after college, she would be covered for personal property and liability insurance, even if she's over age 21, but a nonrelative would not.
EmployeesAny employees you may have, such as housekeepers, au pairs, or landscapers, are covered by your policy's personal property insurance.
Guests and other visitorsYour guests and other invited visitors (as opposed to trespassers) are covered by personal property insurance, provided you contact your insurance company at the time you purchase the policy to request this coverage.
TenantsAlthough your homeowners policy covers many people, there is one group who generally isn't covered--tenants. To protect their belongings in case your home is damaged, renters will need to get a separate renters insurance policy. A renters policy can also provide them with liability protection if someone suffers an injury or property damage due to their negligence.
If you have an in-law apartment, determining whether your tenant's personal belongings will be covered under your homeowners policy is a bit trickier. For some insurance companies, a private entrance is the deciding factor on whether a separate renters policy will be necessary. For others, the deciding factor is whether the person occupying the in-law apartment is a relative. Make sure you confirm your coverage with your insurance agent before you have to file a claim.
If you own a home and are renting it out, keep in mind that your standard homeowners policy may not be appropriate for you because (1) you don't need to insure the contents of the house (unless you're offering it fully furnished), (2) you'll probably need more liability insurance, and (3) you may want to protect yourself against the loss of rental income. If so, you might be interested in an insurance policy designed specifically for rental property.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

That's telling a person who is about to purchase a policy who MAY be insured by it. It's not directing homeowners to add individuals living with them to their policies. And look at the part about tenants - tenants generally aren't covered. An adult child who pays rent is a tenant.

The destruction of the house by fire terminates your lease, if you can't live there for an extended period of time. She is required to pay to put you up in a hotel, though, if you paid rent already for this month.

Unfortunately, California law allows a landlord without a written lease to put a tenant out at any time on 30 days notice (60 if you've lived there for at least a year). So she's allowed to tell you that she's terminating the agreement in 30 or 60 days. If the house is fixed before that, you're allowed back in for the remainder of the notice period.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
What determines a tenant vs a family member?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
There was no contract or lease and she was living with us too.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Tenants pay rent. An oral agreement to live with someone is a lease. It's a very common misconception that you have to have a written agreement for it to be binding. That's not true. Verbal contracts are enforceable.

And, again, the distinction between tenant and family member has no bearing on this situation. Assume that your mother in law could have added you to her policy. If she didn't, then it doesn't matter if you're a family member or a tenant. The relevant analysis comes down to the conversations you had with her and what she promised to do.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She didnt consider us renteres thats where I am confused.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

If she never added you to the policy, then it's irrelevant whether you were guests or tenants. But guests don't really have any legal rights, so saying you weren't a tenant doesn't help you. Even if you're NOT a tenant, that doesn't change the answer regarding the insurance policy proceeds.

Still, California landlord tenant law applies to anyone who is living in a property paying rent, other than something like a hotel. Cal. Civ. Code, Section 1940.