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Think Twice Before Subletting to Friend

April 08, 2001|From Project Sentinel

Question: I live in an apartment and want to rent a room to a friend. What are my responsibilities to my friend and to the manager?

Answer: Before moving your friend into the apartment, carefully review your rental agreement for any clauses that may prohibit subletting. Assuming that your agreement does not prohibit subletting, you effectively become the landlord to your friend who will be your subtenant. As a landlord, you must follow all State of California Civil Code landlord and tenant regulations.

Regardless of any agreements between the two of you, you still remain responsible to your landlord for the rent and condition of your apartment. Your landlord has no contractual obligation to the subtenant because there is no agreement between the two.

Rental Terms Depend on Lease

Q: I am a new tenant and my lease states the rent is $500 a month and can be paid every two weeks, if I wish. On the first of the month I paid $250, and the 15th, I paid the second $250. The landlord told me the rent is $250 for every 14 days, not $500 a month. Since most months have more than 28 days, this would mean I would owe more than $500 each month. Can he charge this?

A: Regardless of the number of days in a month or rent payment options, if your lease states the rent is $500 a month, the landlord is not entitled to additional monthly rent beyond that amount. Since a month can vary from 28 to 31 days, a rental month is defined as the period of time for the full month, not for a specific number of days.

However, according to California Civil Code, parties may agree that rent be paid in less than 30 days, but never less than seven days except in nonpayment of rent cases where a three-day pay-rent-or-quit notice is used.

Landlord's Notice Cancels Tenant's

Q: Last Friday, I terminated my month-to-month tenancy by giving the landlord a 45-day notice to move. This week she handed me a 30-day notice of termination of tenancy saying my unit is already re-rented and I must move in 30 days. Fortunately I am able to move in 30 days. Can my landlord cancel my 45-day notice with her own 30-day notice?

A: Yes, a 30-day notice can supersede a 45-day notice unless the 45-day notice to move provision is stated in the rental agreement.

The length of time to end a tenancy by either party is based on the amount of time between rent payments. For example, if you pay rent monthly, then either you must give your landlord a 30-day notice to move or she must give you at least 30 days to move.

In some cases, when rent is paid weekly, the minimum amount of time allowed by civil code is seven days. Because your landlord disagreed with your 45-day notice, she was entitled to re-rent your unit even though the re-renting was prior to your receiving the 30-day notice of termination.

Naming All Tenants Helps Avoid Confusion

Q: I own an apartment complex and most of the units have multiple tenants living in them. The resident manager says that when she has to serve notices, of any kind, she has to serve only one of the tenants. I think she should serve each tenant living in the unit. What do you think?

A: It is a good business practice to name and serve each adult tenant personally for any notice. This action will avoid any confusion and misinformation for those involved. For example, if roommates are having difficulties getting along with each other, the tenant served may not inform the other tenant of the notice. This could jeopardize the other tenant.

By serving all appropriate tenants, you are also protecting yourself against the claim of invalid service. Contact your local housing program for information.


This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually.

For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Institute or Fair Housing Foundation office in your area:

Bellflower: (562) 901-0808.

Carson: (888) 777-4087.

El Monte: (626) 579-6868.

Hawthorne: (310) 474-1667.

Lancaster: (888) 777-4087

Long Beach: (562) 901-0808

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211.

Redondo Beach: (888) 777-4087

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185.

South-Central Los Angeles: (213) 295-3302.

Westside Los Angeles: (310) 474-1667.

Orange County: (714) 569-0828.

San Bernardino County: (909) 884-8056.

San Diego County: (619) 699-5888.

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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