KTLA recently ran a story regarding a stripper who rented a room from a family. Although the first year went smoothly, the tenant moved in some of her friends into the room, installed an air conditioner, and made strange noises at night. When the homeowners wanted to commence an eviction, they discovered the tenant had done this before and had made a living out of receiving settlements from landlords wanting her to move out.
This story provides is cautionary tale for landlords and provides several learning points.
Perform a Credit Check
A landlord should conduct a credit check of all adult residents. Applications should be completely filled out. Once a landlord receives an application, the landlord should check references, prior landlords, and perform a credit check that includes a check on evictions. In the case of this tenant, there was a discrepancy with the names being used on the application. In cases like this where a credit check may not be able to performed, a landlord can reject a tenant.
Use a Written Agreement
Every landlord-tenant relationship should have a written agreement that spells out the terms of the tenancy. It should contain provisions that detail what a tenant is not allowed to do, such as install items not approved by the landlord, not make loud noises after a certain hour, and when rent is due. A written agreement is much easier to prove and spells out the terms of the tenancy.
Start the Eviction Process Early
Here, the landlords did not begin an eviction until the tenant had not paid rent for several months. A landlord should not delay an eviction because it only adds to the amount that will be owed. Problem tenants generally only get worse, so landlords should start the unlawful detainer process as soon as there is a breach or non-payment of rent.
Renting Rooms in a House
Renting rooms in a house, although different from your normal landlord-tenant relationship, is creates a landlord-tenant relationship. All laws that apply to tenants apply to a tenant renting a room from a homeowner. A homeowner who does rent a room or two in their house should be aware of these laws and be aware that if there is a breach, an eviction may be the only method to get rid of a problem tenant.
Please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220 if you have any questions or to set up an initial consultation.