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Tenant Eviction from Illegal Basement Apartment

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Tenant Eviction from Illegal Basement Apartment

Postby Renz1088 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:08 pm

Hello everyone.

My fiance's mother has been renting (rent is paid monthly; in cash) a basement (illegal unit) in a 1-family house. The entrance to the basement is separate from the main entrance. She's been occupying this unit for about four and a half years. There is no written lease. All she has is an agreement that's signed by the landlord that states what the monthly rent is, but other than that, there are no receipts for the payments the landlord receives on a monthly basis.

The apartment was originally rented to my fiance's mother and my fiance. After a year, my fiance moved out and her mother stayed occupying the unit alone. About two months ago, her father came for a short-term stay. Since he had no where to stay, her mother agreed to have him stay in the unit. Her mother never explained this to the landlord because of that fact that, originally, the unit was rented to two people, and therefore thought it wouldn't be a big deal.

Nonetheless, the landlord became aware of the fact that her father was staying in the unit without the landlords consent, and immediately began threatening her mother with eviction. The landlords reasoning for eviction is strictly due to the fact that her father has been staying in the unit without her direct consent. There are no noise complaints, no issues with rent being paid on time, etc... As a matter of fact, a few days ago, the landlord approached my fiance's father and began cursing him out and demanding that he and my fiance's mother vacate the unit immediately. At this point, the landlord has demanded that her mother and father vacate the apartment by January 3rd. Both her mother and father are within retirement age range, and they've been unable to find a place to stay that can fit within their budget.

My fear is that the landlord will change the locks, or cut off heat, or do everything in her power to make her mothers living situation a total nightmare.

My question is this: What options do the two of them have in order to protect themselves from this type of situation? Can she be evicted in this manner? Are there any protections that she should be aware of when it comes to tenants inhabiting illegal units?

I thank you all for taking the time to provide suggestions and help in this very stressful situation.
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Re: Tenant Eviction from Illegal Basement Apartment

Postby TenantNet » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:24 pm

First, never pay in cash. That invites problems. The law allows tenants to pay in legal tender, and that includes checks and money orders. The latter is as good as cash, and it gives the tenant a receipt.

Second, tenants are allowed to have non-paying guests, no questions asked. If the guest stays too long (I'm guessing that might be 30 days), they could be considered roommates. Guess what, tenants can have roommates, although there are some restrictions, But the LLs cannot prohibit it. See the articles on roommates on this site.

However, as a month-to-month non-regulated tenants, the LL can oust the tenant on 30-days written advance notice, no reason needed. If they get the written notice today, then it's effective Feb. 1. If they can hold it off until next Tuesday, any notice will not be effective until the next rent payment date after 30 days from the notice, i.e., March 1.

I would not tell the LL this. Rely on his ignorance. Just avoid him, or walk by and mumble something. Do not reply. Let him think his Jan. 3 notice is operative.

If he tries anything, call the police. See the thread on illegal evictions on the Reference Section of this Forum.

I would also consult with a tenant attorney and keep them on a short leash if needed.
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