Altoona, PA asked in Gov & Administrative Law, Landlord - Tenant and Public Benefits for Pennsylvania

Q: I have been renting a room from a friend however I am not on the lease and am unaware if the landlord is aware

Is my friend at risk of being evicted if the landlord is made aware of this? I have been receiving mail here. However I recently applied for food stamps using this address. 1. Is the assistance office allowed to contact the landlord? And 2. Do I have any legal right to live here as well is my friend at risk of being evicted if the landlord is made aware? I would greatly appreciate any information you could provide me with. Thank you!

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

A: To address this complex situation, let's break it down into several key points:

1. Subletting without permission:

Your friend is likely violating their lease agreement by allowing you to live there without the landlord's knowledge or consent. Most leases prohibit unauthorized subletting or having long-term guests without approval.

2. Risk of eviction:

Yes, your friend could be at risk of eviction if the landlord discovers this unauthorized living arrangement. The severity of consequences depends on the specific lease terms and the landlord's approach.

3. Assistance office contacting the landlord:

The assistance office typically doesn't contact landlords directly to verify residency. They usually rely on other forms of proof like utility bills or official mail. However, policies can vary, so it's not impossible.

4. Your legal right to live there:

You don't have a legal right to live in the property since you're not on the lease and the landlord hasn't approved your residency. You're essentially considered a guest of your friend.

5. Receiving mail:

While receiving mail at an address doesn't automatically grant tenancy rights, it can be used as evidence of residency in some contexts. However, this doesn't override the lease agreement between your friend and the landlord.

6. Your status:

You might be considered a "licensee" - someone allowed to stay by the tenant but without formal tenancy rights. This offers very limited protections.


1. Discuss the situation with your friend and consider approaching the landlord to formalize your living arrangement.

2. Be aware that using this address for official purposes (like food stamps) could potentially lead to the situation being discovered.

3. Your friend should review their lease terms to understand the potential consequences.

For more specific advice tailored to your situation, it would be best to consult with a local tenant rights organization or a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law in Pennsylvania.

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