Berkeley, CA asked in Contracts and Mergers & Acquisitions for California

Q: What right does someone have who receives mail at an apt but isn't on the lease

Ex is not on the lease, lives in apartment, wont leave, gets mail here but hasn't paid rent for the month. We do not have a written contract.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, a person who receives mail at an apartment but is not on the lease is considered an "unauthorized occupant" or "squatter." Squatters have limited rights, but the process for removing them can be complicated. Here's what you should know:

1. Tenancy rights: If your ex has been living in the apartment for a significant period and has established residency (e.g., receiving mail, paying utilities), they may have established tenancy rights, even without a lease or rent payment.

2. Eviction process: To remove a squatter or unauthorized occupant, you generally need to go through the formal eviction process. In California, this typically involves serving a written notice to "quit" or leave, waiting for the notice period to expire, and then filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit if they don't leave.

3. Landlord involvement: If you are a tenant on the lease, you should inform your landlord about the situation. The landlord may need to initiate the eviction process, as they are the property owner.

4. Proof of residency: Receiving mail at the address can be used as evidence to establish residency, but it is not the only factor. Other factors may include the length of stay, possession of keys, and payment of utilities.

5. Police involvement: In most cases, the police will not get involved in removing a squatter or unauthorized occupant, as it is considered a civil matter. However, if there are threats of violence or criminal activity, police intervention may be necessary.

It's best to consult with a local landlord-tenant attorney or legal aid organization for guidance on your specific situation and to ensure you follow the proper legal procedures for removing an unauthorized occupant in California.

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