For Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers, it was unthinkable to be living at home beyond a certain age, usually your late teens to early 20s. With reasonably affordable property prices and rents, most of those born from 1960 onwards had probably flown the nest by the time they were 18.
However, today’s ‘Millennials’ face a huge housing problem, with astronomical property prices well beyond the reach of anyone even on a good salary, and high rents. That means more 20-somethings (and even those in their 30s) are still living at home with mum and dad.
This can cause problems, as a case over in the USA highlighted recently. In upstate New York, Mike Rotondo’s parents have won a court case to evict their son after he spent eight years living at their home. He argued that he should have been given at least six months to try and find somewhere new to live, but a judge saw things differently, and evicted him.
Communications between Mike and his parents had broken down and, as with all extreme family law situations, there is much more to the story than has been highlighted in the media. It’s always tragic when a family unit degenerates into acrimony, and this is an exceptional situation. But it does highlight one important question – just what kind of rights do the adult offspring have if they are living at home?
If an adult child is living at home and paying their parents rent and board costs, then they are effectively treated by the law as a lodger. However, most mums and dads don’t get their kids to sign a tenancy agreement, so even if the law regards your offspring as an ‘excluded occupier’, you probably don’t.
Excluded occupiers have very little in the way of rights regarding their status, which means that it can be much easier for mum and dad to evict a stay-at-home millennial, there are no legal guidelines regarding the condition of the property and the accommodation provided, and, most importantly for cash-strapped millennials, no guidelines regarding fair rent payment.
If part of your weekly rent is classed as payment for ‘board’, then your parents don’t have to issue you with a rent book, so it’s important for both parties to keep a record of all money paid and received.
Notice to quit
Tenants renting from a landlord are usually protected under law when it comes to notice-to-quit periods. Generally, the law states that a person has a right to at least one month’s notice, and in most short-term fixed contracts, that can be extended to two months’ notice. However, with an ambiguous agreement such as a parent/offspring situation, there is no legal requirement for the parent to give the adult child any notice at all.
The same applies if a parent is living at a child’s house, although the law may look more favourably on the parent if they are old or suffer any health conditions.
Family relationships can often be fraught, especially between the generations. However, with more millennials living at home, it’s increasingly likely that both parents and adult children are going to encounter this situation at some point.
The most important thing is to keep the lines of dialogue open, and if necessary ask a mediator to step in and get both sides talking again. If things really escalate then it may be time to call in a family law expert.