Rent and eviction with roommates in California.
April 16, 2013 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Renter A has a lease and takes on a roommate, who doesn't sign on to the lease and then doesn't pay their share of the rent. A wants them evicted but can't get them out on their own. What, in California, can the owner of the property do to evict the roommate, while leaving the initial renter? Does the owner have any recourse since the roommate isn't on the lease?

There is no written agreement of any kind for the roommate, neither with the roommate or the owner. What is the simplest way of forcing the roommate to leave since they aren't paying?
posted by nuala to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call the cops on them for tresspassing?
posted by reptile at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

A lot of cities have their own specific landlord-tenant law, so you'll need to look into that. I'd recommend finding a tenants' rights organization or other free/low-cost civil legal clinic in your city. Some universities and law schools have them, and there are some that are independent non-profit organizations. Many such organizations have self-help hotlines you can call to get free advice, and they may be able to walk you through whatever process you'll need to do this legally. Good luck!
posted by decathecting at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2013

Best answer: Quick Googling came up with the CA Landlord and Tenant PDF: Here This should have the information you are looking for.

Other answers state that you are in this case, acting as the landlord as they have not signed the lease. You can give them a letter of intent to pay the rent and vacate the property.

This E-How has legal steps for evicting a roommate and collect rent if they do not vacate.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:09 PM on April 16, 2013

Why can "A" not get the "roommate" out? I assume it is a "social" inability rather than legal. "A" would seem to have the legal rights of a landlord with respect to "roommate" if there was a rental agreement, whether written or not, and could exercise eviction rights if the agreement is being violated.

If there never was an agreement, and rent was not paid, this is probably just a situation of an unwelcome guest and trespass may apply.

If the rent is being paid by "A", landlord probably has no right to evict "roommate". If the agreement with "A" forbids occupancy by another, landlord could terminate the tenancy, but probably only by evicting "A" and "roommate". The owner has a right to receive the agreed upon rent. Owner has no right to insist on a "fair sharing" of rent payment.

As said, some areas in California have much more stringent protections for tenants. Check locally.
posted by uncaken at 6:17 PM on April 16, 2013

Best answer: It sounds like your tenant has violated your lease, by having a "roommate", not getting approval from the landlord and not getting that person to sign onto the lease. I'm rather curious about why you wouldn't evict all and sundry. This tenant has put the LANDLORD in a terrible situation.

The "roommate" may have squatter's rights (check the CA Landlord/Tenant PDF). Your tenant has visited this headache on you!

Also, the tenant is responsible for ALL of the rent, so don't feel bad about suing for that. He signed the lease and it says clearly that he's solely responsible for the rent.

This is criminally stupid of the landlord, you don't let this shit happen.

Be a GOOD Landlord, don't let these folks run you around. Know your rights and protect yourself and your property.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:21 PM on April 16, 2013

Crystalinne: "Quick Googling came up with the CA Landlord and Tenant PDF: Here This should have the information you are looking for."

If you can't find your answers in this booklet you can also call the Dept. of Consumer Affairs (the publishers of the booklet) directly at 1-800-952-5210. I've always found them to be very helpful, but check out the booklet first.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:58 PM on April 16, 2013

If there never was an agreement, and rent was not paid, this is probably just a situation of an unwelcome guest and trespass may apply.

I doubt it. At the least, it sounds like there was a verbal agreement to pay rent.

I'd call the local sheriff to find out what forms (an eviction order from the court?) they would need to come and officially throw the tenant out.
posted by jacalata at 7:11 PM on April 16, 2013

The very first thing i'd try would be to show up in person at the property and tell them that they need to grab their shit, and be out by tomorrow night or you'll show up with the police.

They likely don't know their own rights, which may work in the landlords favor. And this setup will show you how much they really know, and how stubborn they actually are. That evening if they didn't leave, i'd call the cops and say that and listen to what the cops said. Even in some cities where there could be technically residency the cops might be willing to just show up and kick them out(i've seen, and heard of it happening)

It's very likely though, as this is the case in all the west coast states i've known anything about(and i know it's the case in WA and OR), that if they've been there for more than 30 days they have "tenancy". This would get very specific to the state and maybe even city if they hadn't paid rent as that's a big one. In some places though, simply occupying the space for 30 days constitutes it being your home and puts some protections in place.

Either way, i'd go pretty far with simply trying to kick them out until they pushed back in any way that seemed like they actually knew that you couldn't. Do they have keys? Is roommate A simply letting them in? Do they have a room in the house or are they just sleeping on the couch/in a walk in closet/etc?

Oh, and a verbal agreement between a tenant and the other guy, who is essentially a sub-leaser is pretty meaningless sometimes. It almost entirely depends on how your area handles the 30 day rule.
posted by emptythought at 7:48 PM on April 16, 2013

I would recommend talking to a lawyer, not to the local police. Police don't always know the law in detail, and landlord-tenant law is the sort of thing that they wouldn't generally have to know, certainly not at this level of detail, in order to do their jobs.
posted by Lady Li at 8:23 PM on April 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone, really. I suspected that finding a lawyer and seeking legal advice would be the best beginning, but now I have an idea about where to look first. Much appreciated.
posted by nuala at 5:52 PM on April 17, 2013

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