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#502 Living together: Rental arrangements

mp3 #502 Living Together - Rental Agreements (mp3 file)

Family Law matters are very complex. Many who try to handle these matters on their own quickly find themselves overwhelmed and out of favor with the courts. Often times costs are cited as the reason for self representation. However, most people with assets and retirement plans stand to lose significant amounts of money, or worse, lose custody of their children if they are not properly represented. Continue here to be referred to an experienced and insured Family Law attorney:


Increasing numbers of people in California are living together without being married. They may be people of the opposite sex, or people of the same sex. They may be having a sexual relationship while living together, or they may be living together mainly to save money, or for companionship and mutual protection.

Most landlords are interested in good tenants who pay their rent on time, and they do not care about their tenants' marital status. Try to find a landlord who feels this way about your lifestyle, to avoid unnecessary hassles.

If you and your friend both have an oral rental agreement with your landlord, or if you both sign a written agreement which goes from month to month, you are each obligated to pay the entire rent each month, even if you agree between yourselves that each will pay only one-half of the rent. If your friend is unable or unwilling to pay half of the rent, or if your friend moves out with no notice to you and the landlord, then you are legally obligated to pay the full rent to your landlord. You may have to move out if you cannot afford to stay, and you may give your landlord 30 days written notice that you will move. However, you are still responsible for the full rent until the 30 days notice expires. You may also give 30 days notice to your landlord, even if your friend refuses to pay and refuses to leave.

If you and your friend have signed a lease for one year, each of you is responsible for the full rent until the date the lease expires. If you can find a tenant who is acceptable to the landlord, then both you and your partner are no longer responsible as soon as the new tenant takes over the lease. The landlord is also obligated to find a suitable new tenant as soon as possible.

Apart from the rental agreement or lease that you and your friend have with your landlord, it will be helpful for you and your partner to have a written agreement between yourselves. This agreement would cover such items as rent payments, utility payments, telephone bills, additional tenants or guests, and who stays in the apartment if you decide to split up. Samples of such agreements are found in low-cost books about living together, written by California attorneys. Such books are written for the average person, and may be available at your local bookstore, or at your library. You may prefer to have an attorney draw up your agreement, or you may write your own and then have it reviewed by an attorney.

When two people decide to live together, one person may simply move in with the other person, instead of both of them leaving where they had been living. When you move in with another person, or when another person moves in with you, be sure to read the existing rental or lease agreement to find out if it says anything about how many people may live on the premises, and if there are any restrictions about new tenants.

You should get in touch with the landlord, if a new tenant moves in. The new roommate often must be approved by the landlord, after filling out' the usual application form, and submitting to a credit check. Usually the terms of the lease remain unchanged. But if a new roommate is sneaked in without the landlord's approval, this may be legal cause for both of you to be evicted. If the two of you end your relationship, who gets to stay and who will have to move out, if each of you wants to stay without the other? If only one of you has signed the rental agreement and has been paying all the rent, then that person has the right to stay. But if you both signed the rental agreement and shared the rent, then you both have an equal legal right to stay, even if one of you lived there first. Whenever one person is staying, the other person should be given a reasonable period of time to find another place to live.

When breaking up, each person has the right to keep all of his or her personal belongings. Even if your partner is behind in the rent, you have no right to lock up the other person's property, or to lock the other person out so that he or she cannot move out his or her belongings.

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