Airbnb was recently highlighted in the L.A. Times as it becomes more prevalent in certain neighborhoods. The article is entitled “Airbnb and other short term rentals worsen housing shortage, critics say.” I have written several other posts about Airbnb and some of the legal ramifications associated with short term rentals. Basically, anytime you rent out real estate to someone you have created a tenancy. If that “tenant” refuses to leave after the agreed upon time, you would have to file an unlawful detainer, or eviction, to get that person out — no matter how short of a time the person stayed at the property.
Today’s post highlights something mentioned in the L.A. Times article about subletting. Subleasing occurs when a tenant rents out a space of a unit to another person. For example, a tenant rents from a landlord a two bedroom apartment, and the tenant turns around and “sublets” one room. It can also include the entire space even if the tenant does not live there. Nearly every residential lease I have ever seen prohibits subleasing, and for good reasons. Most residential leases contain a clause that requires a landlord’s prior written consent for a tenant to sublease a property.
If a tenant subleases a space without the landlord’s permission in violation of a rental agreement, a landlord can serve a tenant a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If the tenant fails to comply the landlord can commence an eviction. In these situations where a landlord knows that there are additional occupants in the space, it would be prudent to also serve a Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession on all occupants. Landlords should act quickly if they find that a tenant is subleasing a space because the longer a landlord waits, the stronger the argument becomes that the landlord waived the provision in the rental agreement.
As a tenant who subleases, the tenant would be acting as a “landlord” to the subtenant. If a subtenant stops paying rent or otherwise violates a rental agreement, the tenant is ultimately responsible to evict the subtenant. A tenant has standing to lawfully sue a subtenant for unlawful detainer and evict a subtenant.
Before subleasing a space, it is important to review the rental agreement to see what is allowed. It is also important to know the pitfalls associated with becoming a landlord to a subtenant. For landlords who find a tenant has subleased a space, it is important to act quickly so as not to waive any violation of the rental agreement.