What if my roommate demands money from the sale of my house? Ask the lawyer – San Bernardino Sun

Q: I helped out a friend who was down on her luck and let her stay at my house the past year. She does not pay rent or utilities. She contributes by doing some work, cooking and some cleaning. I am putting the house on the market. She now claims she should get part of the money when the house sells. I would like her out of the house instead; she may well disrupt showings and I do not agree she should get money from the sale. Any guidance?

B.L., Venice

Ron Sokol

A: During the pandemic, it was not unusual to hear of sellers choosing to pay tenants to make sure they would cooperate with the sale and move out when the sale concluded. Pandemic rules were such that having tenants move out could be complicated. Your situation is different because you live there and so does the other person. Also, it is at least arguable the pandemic has simmered down so tenancy issues are not as formidable.

First, I presume you have a real estate agent or broker. He or she may have familiarity with this dilemma — talk it out with that person or let him or her handle it, at least in part. Second, you may be able to evict her as “a tenant at will.” While changing the locks or booting her out may be tempting, those actions come with genuine risks. Thus, a good landlord-tenant specialist may well be crucial.

For example, you can serve a properly prepared 30-day notice to quit to get the ball rolling (this extends to 60 days if she did pay rent at one time). If she does not move out at the end of the deadline, you then can file an unlawful detainer (eviction) action. What I cannot predict is how this person will react and what it will be like for you to have her under the same roof. Again, talking this out with your real estate agent and giving serious thought to qualified counsel is advisable. And you have no doubt heard this expression, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

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