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What does it mean to be a tenant in possession?

San Leandro, CA |

If I moved in with my terminally ill father (to care for him) in April 2009, and my father died in July 2009, and I continued living on in his condo, do I have the same agreement as my father with the landlord? This is a condo unit with an HOA: I have notified the landlord in writing of the my father's death, and the landlord addressed me in writing as the "tenant in possession". As of today, I am still renting from the landlord, but I would like to ask him to paint and re-carpet the unit. Do I have the same tenant rights? What does this mean for me?

Thank you.

Attorney Answers 1


Did your father have a lease agreement? In California, when a tenant who has a tenancy for a specified term (such as a one-year lease) dies, tenancy continues until the end of the lease term, despite the tenant's death. Responsibility for the rest of the lease term passes to the tenant's executor or administrator. (Joost v. Castle (1939) 33 Cal.App.2d 138).

If the tenant had a month-to-month tenancy, the tenancy is terminated by written notice of the tenant's death. (Civil Code Section 1934.) The tenancy ends on the 30th day following the tenant's last payment of rent before the tenant's death. No 30-day or 60-day notice is required to terminate such tenancy. (Miller & Desatnik Management Co. v. Bullock (1990) 221 Cal.App.3d Supp. 13, 18-19).

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.

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Mr. Chen, My apologies for the very delayed response. However, I thank you very much for your valuable response. Yes, my father did have a one year lease agreement, which he signed in 2003. My father died in July 2009, and I moved in to care for him during April 2009. I have since filed a renter's application with the Landlord (in 2009); but I have not signed an official lease. I noticed that whenever the Landlord sent me any writtten communication he addressed me as "Tenant im Possession". And so, I didn't know the definition or significance of this term. So basically, this landlord can evict me at will--is that correct? Thank you kindly.

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen


Unfortunately, that is correct.



Thank you Mr. Chen.

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