Lessee, Renter, Tenant
Adams Stirling PLC


QUESTION: What is considered a rental unit? We have individuals purchasing units, not living in them, but putting their children and grandchildren in them to reside.

ANSWER: Good question. If a nephew is given the unit while in college and pays the utilities but nothing else, is he a renter? If a man lets a woman stay in his unit because she provides him love and affection, is her affection considered rent? The Davis-Stirling Act does not define renter, lessee or tenant. For that, we must look elsewhere.

Generally Defined. Civil Code §1940 defines tenant as “persons who hire dwelling units...including tenants, lessees, boarders, lodgers, and others..." Civil Code §1925 defines hiring as “a contract by which one gives to another the temporary possession and use of property, other than money, for reward, and the latter agrees to return the same to the former at a future time.” Civil Code §1951 defines rent as “charges equivalent to rent.”

Conclusion. Rent is defined as consideration for the use or occupation of property. (Black's Law Dictionary.) Consideration can be money, goods, services or other value. Accordingly, the gratitude of a relative or the affection of a mistress could both qualify as rent and the occupant deemed a tenant.

RECOMMENDATION: How associations define renters/tenants will impact how they answer lender questionnaires and how they regulate the use of HOA amenities. To avoid ambiguity, associations should work with legal counsel to clearly define "tenant" and tenant-related issues.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC