The case of Diane Stretton and the Bracamonte family of Upland provides a warning to all homeowners who rent out individual rooms in their own homes. The case has received widespread attention and has left many people scratching their heads in disbelief that a live-in nanny who refuses to work can simply can stay in the home without repercussion and must be evicted through the unlawful detainer process. A summary of the story behind the nanny who won’t leave can be found here.
When a homeowner rents a room to a person in their own home, the resident is generally called a “lodger;” however, the rules of landlord-tenant law in California still apply similar to a tenant in an apartment building. For example, if a lodger does not pay rent when it is due, the homeowner must serve the tenant a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit and after three days begin the unlawful detainer process.
However, in non-rent control jurisdictions, a homeowner who wants to evict a tenant for no cause must still serve a 30 or 60 Day Notice to Quit in order to begin the unlawful detainer process. It is important to note that a lodger (like a tenant) has a right to stay in the room through the notice period and only must move out at the end of the period.
It is important to note that a homeowner who rents rooms cannot resort to “self-help” in evicting a tenant. That means a homeowner cannot simply change the locks to the room or do something that would cause a lodger from accessing the room. Such actions would be illegal and cause the homeowner to be subject to civil liability.
Evictions Based Upon End of Employment
In addition, in the case of Diane Stretton, there is a separate body of law for evictions for tenants whose tenancy is based upon employment with the landlord. If an employee is terminated and received free rent as part of the employment, the landlord can go straight to court and commence an unlawful detainer. However, if the tenant paid rent, the normal rules would apply requiring a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit or a 30 or 60 Day Notice to Quit.
Kn sum, homeowners who are looking to rent rooms in their home should be aware of the landlord-tenant laws, particularly if the relationship sours. It is simply not as easy as calling the police department to force a lodger to move from the property if you want a tenant removed from the property.