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Can landlord evict tenant's houseguest?

A rental home's landlord finds his tenant has a guest staying the entire summer. What steps can the landlord take to get rid of the guest?

September 16, 2012|By Martin Eichner

Question: I own a home that I am using as a rental investment property. This home has a large backyard with a patio. During these recent summer months, I noticed that in addition to the tenant on my lease, there is another fellow sleeping on a lounge chair in the backyard. My tenant says this guy is his guest, and that he will be staying there the entire summer. I am not happy with this arrangement. Is there is any action I can take to remove "Mr. Outdoors"?

Answer: First, check your rental agreement. A well-written agreement should prohibit any guest from staying on the rental property for more than 21 days without your permission. Your agreement should also have a clause forbidding any adult from living in the rental property who is not a signatory to the agreement.

If you have either clause in your agreement, you can give your tenant a three-day notice to "perform covenant or quit" after 21 days have passed. In this context, the "perform covenant or quit" notice directs the tenant to comply with the rental agreement by removing Mr. Outdoors.

If you don't have either clause in your agreement, your options are less attractive. If this fellow stays more than 30 consecutive days with the tenant's permission, he becomes a tenant-at-will, despite the very informal nature of his living quarters. As a tenant at will, Mr. Outdoors can be removed only by his voluntary departure or by the original tenant, who has become the "landlord" for Mr. Outdoors, giving Mr. Outdoors a 30-day written notice of termination of tenancy.

Since he has become the landlord for Mr. Outdoors, he would have to file an unlawful detainer eviction action against Mr. Outdoors if the notice of termination doesn't result in his departure.

If your original tenant doesn't cooperate to take one of these actions to remove Mr. Outdoors, your only choice is to terminate the tenancy of the original tenant, assuming there is a month-to-month rental agreement. If he and his friend don't voluntarily leave at that point, you will need to file an unlawful detainer against the original tenant "and all other persons living on the property" as a way to include Mr. Outdoors in the eviction.

Eichner is director of Housing Counseling Programs for Project Sentinel, a nonprofit agency providing tenant-landlord and fair housing counseling in four Bay Area counties. To submit a question, contact info@housing.org.

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