Adult living at home: What are my rights?

I’ll be 18 in a little bit. But I still live with my parents, and probably will for at least the next 6 months.

When I’m legally an adult, what are my rights regarding my privacy and that sort of stuff? Will my parents still be able to snoop through my room to see if I have drugs? I’m talking legally.
Do they have the legal right to do that when I’m no longer legally a child? If it helps the answer any, I won’t be paying any board or rent. But I don’t see how not paying them gives them the right to rummage through my shit while I’m gone. What’s the law?

You’re kidding, right? You live rent free in their house and are subject to their rules. If you don’t like it, you have the right to move out.

I don’t know about Wisconsin, but in Maryland and New York the parties owning the house (your parents) have a right to search any part of the house they own. Again, I don’t know about Wisconsin, but in MD & NY the owners of the house can be held responsible for held responsible for any drugs found in the house.

You have the right to move out any time once you’re 18. The owners or renters of the place where you happen to be living have the right to access any part of their domicile at any time and for any reason.

I wouldn’t doubt that the OP’s parents can search the floor and shelves in his room (after all, it’s really their room), but where exactly is the line between “their domicile” and his property? Does the owner of a house have a legal right to search a suitcase or crate that someone else leaves in the house?

Back in high school, the rumor was that The Man could search students’ lockers (school property) at any time, but they needed permission or a warrant to search backpacks or clothing (student property), even if it was found inside a locker. We may have been completely wrong, of course, but I’d expect an adult’s property at his parents’ house to have at least as much protection as a student’s property at school.

Protection perhaps from governmental intrusion (which includes schools). But from a private individual who is legally in possession of said property (the parents)? I don’t think so.

Hopefully a SDMB lawyer-type will show up soon.

If the crate is inside the parent’s home, it is very likely that they could be held legally responsible. Rent might possibly change that, but IANAA.

On the other hand, the school is not legally responsible for what you bring in your backpack since that belongs to you and not to them.

Whether your second paragraph is the case or not, it’s not on all fours with this situation. You are talking rights of underage citizens vs. a government institution (the school). The case here is that the senior Haydukes own or rent a dwelling, in which they have been pleased to house Hayduke Lives! during his childhood and adolescence. When he turns 18, he does not cease to be a member of their family vis-à-vis their landlord (if tenants), but becomes a subtenant of theirs “on sufferance” – which means that his legal right to their dwelling is subject to their reasonable demands on it.

For example, presuming that his reference to “drugs” is not suggesting that he prefers to keep his asthma medicine and athlete’s foot cream in his room while they prefer it be in the bathroom medicine cabinet, they have every right to require that illegal controlled substances not be brought into their home and to take whatever steps are necessary to enforce that expectation.

There’s a social expectation to privacy which usually obtains for an adult child residing with his/her parents – but the presumption there is that he/she can be trusted to abide by the parents’ expectations as homeowners.

In short, Hayduke, you have the option to live with them free, on their rules, as long as they’re willing to let you do so, but with them having the legal right to inspect whatever is left within their home – or the right as an adult to go out and get your own place and pay your own bills, with a reasonably complete expectation of privacy. (“Reasonably complete” allowing for your landlord’s specific rights to protect his property against damage or loss, which are limited but do exist.)

[qutoe]Hopefully a SDMB lawyer-type will show up soon.

What am I, chopped livah?

There are two general aspects to the “right to privacy,” neither of which applies to teenagers living at home.

The first is the constitutional right to privacy that the U.S. Supreme Court has inferred from the U.S. Constitution. (There is no specific right to privacy listed in the Consitution.) This deals with the right to privacy from governmental intrusion. (The Constitution deals almost exclusively with the extension of government powers, and the limitations on government actions. It doesn’t address how one private citizen treats another.) If you want a general overview of Constitutional “right to privacy” thinking by the Supremes, Google “Lawrence v. Texas,” which is their last big case on it (striking down the Texas anti-sodomy law).

The second is the statutory right to privac, which in turn can be split into three broad categories (that I can think of off the top of my head). The first is a right to privacy in things like school records and medical records. The second is a right to privacy in your likeness, so that people can’t paste your famous face on a can of soda and sell it. (Though this is more properly construed as a right to publicity, as opposed to a right to privacy.) Both of these are grounded not in the constituion but in various laws passed by various jurisdictions that convey such rights. These laws in turn criminalize disseminating someone else’s private information, or likeness, in certain circumstances. The third is a right to notice before entry into a rental property by a landlord. Such laws exist in most states and bestow upon a tenant a right to privacy in his or her apartment or dwelling by requiring that the landlord given notice (usually 24 to 48 hours) before entering, in the absence of a compelling reason to enter immediately, such as an emergency. If a person rents a room, as opposed to an entire apartment or dwelling, that notice requirement still applies and the landlord can’t just go in and snoop around the room. And, of course, this right is also augmented by criminal law which prohibits anyone who doesn’t have your permission or any legal right to do so, from barging into your house (trespass, burglary, etc.).

The only one that even arguably might apply is requirement placed on a landlord to provide notice before entering. But that applies to tenants – you know, people who pay rent or other consideration in exchange for housing. A child, emancipated or not, is not a tenant unless he or she is paying rent or otherwise giving consideration in exchange for housing.

You ain’t a tenant. You’re a member of your parents’ household. You have only those rights to privacy that they choose to grant you. It might be a courtesy not to snoop through your stuff, but it’s not a requirement.

Could you elaborate on acceptable examples of “otherwise giving consideration in exchange for housing?” And how formal would these presumably non-monetary exchanges have to be?

Dude, just get a footlocker with a padlock and keep your porno (and all your ‘legal’ drugs) there.


Well, “consideraton” means basically “value,” and it doesn’t have to be money. So you could, say, work for your room and board – as many farmhands and domestic servants do (though both are often exempted from landlord-tenant laws, and both these days usually receive a salary as well as R&B). That’s probably the most common example. But it could be almost anything. If you’re Light-Fingered Vinnie and you deal in Goods That Fall Offa Trucks, maybe you give your landlord a new home appliance every month. As to how formal they’d have to be – not very, until there’s a dispute. Month-to-month (or week-to-week, or whatever) rental arrangements never have to be very formal, and the type of consideration given wouldn’t change that. But once there’s a dispute – say, on party saying “I was cleaning the house every week as payment of rent, and I was a tenant” and the other party saying “he just cleaned the house because he’s a neat freak, and he lived here as a guest, and he wasn’t a tenant.” So as usual, it’s best to be as formal as necessary to make sure all parties are on the same page from the get-go. That’s the wise thing to do, but it’s not required.

If he were my son and I thought he was bringing drugs into my house, I’d be cutting those padlocks off as fast as he could slap them on.

C’mon, think logically. You take the footlocker and put some boring stuff in it. Like sweaters. Either your parents will freak out and cut off the lock–and you can walk in, peer at them quizzically, and say “Was there some kind of sweater emergency?”–or they’ll ignore it, and it’ll run em nuts. Classic misdirection. In the meantime, you hide the porno and drugs elsewhere, like a secret wall compartment or something.

Would it be considered vandalism to break open your son’s locker, or does the right to search your own home extend to damaging property owned by someone else?

And not that its any of our business, but if this question is anything beyond acedemic, you need to work out a compromise with your parents. IMHO the law, whatever it says, is not going to be helpful here: if your parents find porn, drugs, private letters, hair dye, or anything they don’t like, it’s too late, isn’t it? And saying “I have a right to privacy, don’t open that cupboard” will be coutnerproductive.

I think the legal side has been pretty well covered.
Hope you won’t mind if I look at the moral side.

Being an adult means you take responsibility for yourself (and your dependants). Sure you have rights, but you need to be aware of your responsibilities.
And in particular welcome to the world of paying rent (taxes, insurance etc.)

I stayed at home, with my parents approval, till I finished my education. Later I did come back for a while (since I was changing jobs and moving house.)
Of course I paid rent. (As Jodi mentioned, my parents and I agreed a short letter covering the deal.)

If you haven’t got a job, do chores (and get a job).

If you want privacy, get your own place.

Hypothetically, would Hayduke’s level of protection increase if he agreed to pay a nominal amount of rent each month?

But, but , but your first post was so brief and concise and to the point that I never even considered you might be a lawyer! :smiley:

Slight hijack, inspired by Mr2001’s post:

Suppose you have a pair of incredibly nosy neighbors… so nosy that they sneak on to your property one night and peer in your back window, only to see you loading your fully automatic weapons while smoking crystal meth and cheating on your taxes. Scandalized, they rush back to their house and call the police. Based on their call, the police obtain a warrant and search your home, find the incriminating material, and arrest you.

Is the Fourth Amendment implicated here?