Will there be a problem leasing to a spouse living separately from a partner but not legally separated or divorced?

Asked 6 months ago - Irvine, CA

Here is an example. John and Mary are living separately but not legally separated or divorced. John signed a lease to an apartment and moved into it January. In February Mary and John patched their differences and Mary decided to move into the leased apartment with John. In April John died of an accident. Can Mary legally stay in the leased apartment since they are still considered married at the time of death ? If so is she bound by the lease agreement? What other complications can this bring?

Thank you.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Laurie Peters

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . This is more of a landlord tenant issue. Who has a right to tenancy pursuant to the lease.

    Before you become concerned, I would have Mary explain the situation to the landlord, or if Mary continues to pay rent, then there is not likely to be a problem. The landlord probably just wants his or her rent. However, if the lease is signed by John, and the agreement pursuant to the lease says that only John will live in the residence, there could be a problem. The issue has nothing to do with whether or not they are married or separated, it is what was the contractual agreement, i.e. the lease. The lease is an independent contract between the landlord and the tenant, and it has nothing to do with the marriage.

    The information provided is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice and does not... more
  2. Edna Carroll Straus

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . On the facts you state, there are no complications.

    All of Ms. Straus’ responses to questions posted on Avvo are intended as helpful information based upon the facts... more
  3. Stephen Ross Cohen

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . If she did not sign, the lease is over and she is free to move or be evicted, she needs to talk to the landlord

    My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA.... more

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

27,988 answers this week

3,119 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

27,988 answers this week

3,119 attorneys answering