Monday, April 13, 2015

Legal Definitions - K


K – a legal abbreviation for the word contract. The law has a lot of abbreviations [altho definitely not as many as the military], like P [or the pi symbol] for plaintiff and D for defendant. Many a law student's notes will say “P & D w K” and that is entirely understandable for any law student or lawyer unless they haven't had their morning coffee.

Key – the symbol identifying which party has possession of the apartment. When the landlord gives the key to the tenant, the tenant then has legal possession, whether or not a rental agreement was actually signed or any rent money was actually paid. Conversely, the tenant is still in possession until he tenders the key back to the landlord. Many of the settlement agreements I write, state that if the tenant delivers possession of the apartment, in good condition, back to the landlord by X date and X time, the landlord will forgive some or all of the back rent owed. Unless the tenant tenders the key on or before the stated date/time, he still has possession and the back rent is still owed. The moral of this story is never just move out, always get a receipt that states you returned the key.  One local judge, recently retired [unfortunately, because he was really funny], would tell defendants to hire a busload of nuns to watch the return of the key and get it all on film, so there would be no question that possession had been returned to the landlord.

Kin – blood relative [including spouse and adopted children], generally used in the context of death, as in “next of kin.” In CA, if a tenant dies, any lease remains in effect until the stated ending date. So if the lease ends on December 31, April rent was paid, and the tenant dies on April 28, the executor of the tenant's estate [usually next of kin] is still responsible for paying the monthly rent until December 31. Most of the time, the executor clears out the tenant's personal property and delivers possession back to the landlord, and the tenant's estate is only responsible for the monthly rent until the landlord finds a new tenant. For a month-to-month rental, the agreement ends 30 days after the last rent payment. In the example above, the rental would end on April 30, giving the executor [next of kin] only two days to clear out the tenant's personal property. Most landlords will work with the next of kin for a week, maybe two, and deduct the additional rent from the security deposit. The moral of this story is, if you like your relatives and don't want them to have a harder time than they would otherwise have on your death, try to die near the beginning of the month so they have additional days to clear out your apartment.


  1. I used to work at a law firm, and boy could I have used your definitions when I first started working there!

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy

    1. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you enjoyed my definitions!