If I have have rented a room in a house, can the landlord use the top of the closet space for temporarystorage?

UPDATED: Sep 21, 2010

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If I have have rented a room in a house, can the landlord use the top of the closet space for temporarystorage?

I have just rented a room in someone’s house. The closet is tiny, yet the owner is still occupying the the upper area of the closet to store her nephew’s things until he returns. Because of this, I cannot put away things that I have brought with me, and have boxes and other things on my floor. His two laptops are on the desk, and there is a box of his things on the floor of the room. I have paid my rent in good faith. What are my rights? What is the owner’s obligations? I am paying $800 for the room, plus she is charging me $100 for utilities. It is not a large room.

Asked on September 21, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The rights of both tenant and landlord are determined by the lease agreement. If you are leasing the whole room--i.e. the agreement does not specifically say that the landlord is reserving some space for her own belongings--then the landlord does NOT have a right to that space. If you are renting a room and there was no reservation of space in it for the landlord, the entire room, including its closet, is yours.

Note that if you don't have a written lease, you can still enforce the terms of an oral lease; however, an oral lease can be changed or terminated by the landlord on 30 days notice, so you need to think about what you'd want to do here.


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