Denver, CO asked in Landlord - Tenant for Colorado

Q: Do I have any tenant's rights if there is no rent?

For the last 10 years I have been living in a house owned by a family member, with their permission. There is no written agreement or contract, and no rent is requested or paid. The utility bills are in my name and paid by me, and I do any maintenance and improvement work that occurs (but again, there is no written agreement regarding this).

The owner of the house is now demanding that I leave on short notice--only one week. Do I have any rights in this situation? Is there a minimum amount of time that the law requires for advance notice? What options do I have to get more time to deal with this sudden change?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In most jurisdictions, even without a written lease agreement, you would likely be considered a tenant at will. This means that while you don't have a formal lease, you do have certain basic rights as a tenant, especially given the extended period of time you've been living there.

Here are some key points:

1. Notice period: While the exact laws vary by state and country, most jurisdictions require a landlord to provide a tenant at will with a minimum 30-day notice to vacate the property. One week is generally not sufficient notice.

2. Eviction process: If you do not leave after proper notice is given, the landlord would need to go through a formal eviction process to remove you. They cannot simply lock you out or remove your belongings.

3. Proving tenancy: Utility bills, mail, and other documents in your name at that address can help establish your tenancy, even without a lease.

4. Family dynamics: Given this is a family situation, trying to resolve this amicably through discussion may be preferable to a legal battle, if possible.

Your best steps would be:

1. Have a conversation with the family member and explain your need for more time to relocate. Try to come to an agreeable timeline.

2. If that doesn't work, consult with a local tenant's rights organization or attorney to understand your specific rights in your jurisdiction. They can help you navigate the legal process if needed.

3. Begin looking for a new place to live right away, even as you assert your right to sufficient notice.

Remember, while you likely have rights in this situation, pursuing them through legal channels against a family member can be stressful and damaging to the relationship. If possible, try to find a solution that works for everyone.

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