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Landlord/Tenant Law

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I Rent A Room In A House. What Are My Rights?

Your legal rights depend on whether you are a tenant, guest or boarder. A tenant is one who pays rent for the exclusive right to use the premises, usually for a defined period. A boarder or guest is one who pays a fee for the right to use a room and receive services, generally for a short period of time.

To determine if you are a tenant or boarder the court will look at:


  • whether there is a written agreement and if it refers to itself as a lease and to payments as rent;
  • the length of time you have lived at the residence;
  • whether the room is the only residence you have;
  • whether you are residing there temporarily;
  • how often you pay rent; daily or monthly;
  • whether services such as linen service, switchboard service and maid service are provided;
  • whether you own the furnishings in the room;
  • whether the amount you pay includes tax; and
  • whether the person you pay has a business license.

If you are not a tenant but are a guest or boarder, you have limited protection under the law. If the hotel owner or boarding house owners wants a resident to move he need only give notice equal to the time for which the occupancy is paid. For example: if payment is made weekly, one weeks notice to vacate is all that would be required. However, if payment is past due no notice is required.

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