Imagine a adult child is living with her mother (and has been for a long time) who has some dementia issues. It is the mother's house and the adult child has been trying to help the mother. Then one day the two get into a heated verbal argument and the mother tells the adult child to move out?

Does the adult child have to move out that night? If the adult child does move out, can be charged with elder abuse for leaving the mother alone when the adult child believes it is not safe for the mother to live alone. Part of the problem with the mother living alone is that she would need to get to the food store and her driving skills have detoriated.

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First, a landlord cannot just expel a tenant, this involved getting a court order where the judge tells the tenant to leave. Second, she might think that "You're not a tenant, you're just living here" but that is pretty much what it means to be a tenant – she agreed to let the relative live there. There does not have to be a detailed lease written up, though the term of such unwritten agreements is usually month-to-month (this is all about the laws of the particular state, but no state authorizes instant expulsion).

You would need to look at the laws of your state for the "abuse" question. Using Washington as an example, and trying to make the best case possible that bailing out is against the law, the potential legal concern is "abandonment", which is defined as an

action or inaction by a person or entity with a duty of care for a vulnerable adult that leaves the vulnerable person without the means or ability to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, or health care.

the failure of a vulnerable adult, not living in a facility, to provide for himself or herself the goods and services necessary for the vulnerable adult's physical or mental health, and the absence of which impairs or threatens the vulnerable adult's well-being. This definition may include a vulnerable adult who is receiving services through home health, hospice, or a home care agency, or an individual provider when the neglect is not a result of inaction by that agency or individual provider.

RCW 74.34.200 creates a legal cause of action for abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect of a vulnerable adult. Then one might sue for abandonment if one is living at home and

receives care from a home health, hospice, or home care agency, or an individual provider

But, "individual provider" is a defined legal term:

a person under contract with the department to provide services in the home under chapter 74.09 or 74.39A RCW

If the tenant is under contract with the state to provide services, then abandoning the vulnerable adult could get you sued. The courts do not declare that a duty of care exists because of a genetic relationship. A duty of care might be found from a contractual relation (one not involving a state social services agency), for example "You can live here if you take care of me". So there is a legal concern over abandonment, which the person should talk out with an attorney (which is possible since instant-eviction is not an option). Said attorney might also discuss the concept of guardianship.

  • 3
    A person living in the same premises as the landlord is not a tenant; they are a lodger. Similar but different rules apply to lodgers
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 22:06

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