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Is staying in my Ex's apartment legal?
by Yetta G. Kurland
October 5, 2010
Dear Yetta:

My girlfriend and I have been together for five years. This summer she left me for another woman. It has ripped me apart. I have lost my friends and my family. I was so upset I threw her out of the apartment we lived in, which is technically hers. She says I can’t do that, but clearly we can’t live together and I feel that it is the least I am entitled to. Aren’t I?

-Heartbroken


Dear Heartbroken:

There are many questions that come to mind before answering you. For instance, did you have a living together agreement that determined who leaves and who stays in the event of a dissolution? Who is on the lease/title? Who pays the rent or conversely the mortgage? These as well as other factors could impact who has a right to live in the apartment, i.e. who has “tenancy.”

But sticking to the basics and presuming that you have both lived in the apartment for the past five years, you would most likely both have a right to tenancy in the apartment. In which case, simply changing the locks is a no-no.

Conversely, if your partner has vacated and surrendered her right in the apartment, she may not be entitled to re-enter. Has she moved out? Did she let you know? Has she started living somewhere else?

Ultimately if you two can’t figure it out and come up with some sort of arrangement that is mutually agreeable, you will inevitably have to go into court and have a judge decide for you. I don’t know if you rent or own, but remember, even if your partner has given up her tenancy in the apartment, and you are living there without her, that is a separate issue from her financial interest and ownership in the property.

Good luck.

Yetta

P.S.
Dear 38 senators who denied marriage equality in New York State: You took a giant step backwards for us in our state’s long history of freedom and civil rights. Robert Kennedy, the Seneca Falls Convention, Stonewall—all part of the Empire State’s history and legacy. Shame on you. Discrimination is not who we are and we will show you that when we elect new leaders to represent us!


Email questions to kurland@helloworld.edu or call 212-253-6911

*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney.

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