Tenant Subletting

I put the key into my front door, unlocked it, and walked into my condo to find two elderly ladies sitting on my couch with their dog, watching my TV. They yelled at me to “get out”… and then they called the cops on me.

What’s wrong with this picture? The first thing, it’s a true story and it happened to my husband, Vince, while we were dating. He had an apartment in San Diego, he was a touring sound engineer, and was hardly ever home. When he was home, he stayed at my condo most nights. So, he rented a room to his co-worker’s dad. It wasn’t two months before Vince came home from touring to find that the co-worker’s dad let his mom stay with him, and then her friend… and her dog. My husband just thought he would sublet to cover the rent on his condo while he was on the road working. He never knew renting a room without written permission from the landlord would cause such a stir.

The cops did come, they questioned Vince and both the ladies. The cops knew the “visitors law.” Once you’ve stayed somewhere more than two weeks and are receiving mail at the residence, you become a resident with rights (this varies from state to state). There was nothing Vince could do, so he turned in his notice to move and crossed his fingers that the ladies and dog would go too. Thank heaven they all abided. If the landlord had to evict the “guest” residence, it would not have gone on their credit, the eviction would have shown up on Vince’s credit. Try getting an unlawful detainer off your credit for breaking the lease sublet clause, it’s not going to happen!

The California Association of Realtors Rental Agreement, under item 21, states: Tenant shall not sublet all or any part of Premises, or assign or transfer this Agreement or any interest in it, without Landlord’s prior written consent. Unless such consent is obtained, any assignment, transfer or subletting of Premises or this Agreement or tenancy, by voluntary act of Tenant, operation of law or otherwise, shall, at the option of Landlord, terminate this Agreement.

For a list of helpful terms like “unlawful detainer lawsuit” and “eviction,” check out the California Department of Consumer Affairs glossary.

So, word to the wise. If you are renting, don’t improperly sublet your home. Guests can become tenants in your rental quite easily and you might be shocked to find how quickly things can go wrong. Make sure to follow guidelines in your rental agreement. The agreement is written to protect renters and the owner.

Side note: If you own your home, a lodger can become a tenant as well, there are just other laws and stipulations to removing lodgers from your home.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker