What is the law regarding an occupants payment of rent?

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What is the law regarding an occupants payment of rent?

My wife and I have lived in a house owned by my daughter for 7 years. She never charged us any rent because we had severe debt to the IRS and credit cards. The IRS debt has been discharged but we still have a mountain of credit card debt. My son has purchased the house from my daughter. Now he wants to charge us $800 per month rent. Going from $0 rent to $800 a month is a big leap for us. We have no signed lease and never had one. My son is giving us an ultimatum. Sign a new lease, pay the $800 per month, or get out. Do we have any rights, having lived here for 7 years?

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Actually you son, as the legal owner, has every right to ask for rent. You are merely "licensees" at this point. That is, you are long term guests that pay no rent. In effect, you will be treated similar to month-to-month tenants. As such, if your "landlord" now requires rent to be paid and you do not oblige, you can be served with a 30 day notice. If you fail to vacate by the date specified, your son can file for an "unlawful detainer" (i.e. eviction lawsuit).

The fact is that you were fortunate to live so long rent free. I realize that you had huge debts, but since some of them have been eliminated, perhaps you could now afford some rent. Possibly you could negotiate a lower amount with your son. Also, since you appear to have no substantial assets, you may want to consider filing a bankruptcy - Chapter 7, or if you make enough, a Chapter 13 re-payment plan. This would relieve you of all or a portion of your remaining outstanding debt and leave you with more disposable income to pay rent, etc.


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