This article was posted on Monday, Mar 01, 2021

Q: Six months ago, I rented my two-bedroom apartment to a single woman with a one-year lease. She wants a roommate. Do I have to allow my tenant to have a roommate?

A: It depends. Most leases include a clause that prohibits or authorizes tenants to have a roommate or add additional occupants. If you allow your tenant to have a roommate, you should screen the prospective roommate as you would any other applicant. If the prospective roommate does not qualify, you can deny their application.

However, if the prospective roommate does qualify, you can require your existing tenant and the new tenant to execute a new lease/rental agreement or add an addendum to the current lease/rental agreement that adds the new tenant. If your lease prohibits roommates, you may deny the additional occupant as long as this action is not discriminatory. 

Q: Two years ago, I rented my one-bedroom condominium to a single man. Recently, he got married and requested that I add his partner and their two children to the rental agreement. I do not want to allow four people to live in my one-bedroom condominium and think it will cause too much wear and tear to my unit. Can I deny the tenant’s request to add his new partner and children?

A: No, denying a tenant’s request to add family members to their rental agreement/lease is considered discrimination against a family unit. While your concern about wear and tear on your property might be valid, familial status is considered a protected class. 

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Q: I frequently rent my college area house to two or three college students. The neighbors recently reported to me that there are six adults living in my house. I do not want to be cited by the city for violating occupancy rules and regulations. Can I evict these tenants?

A: It depends on the terms of your lease or rental agreement. Most leases/rental agreement will have a clause against subletting, assigning and/or adding additional occupants without the landlord’s prior written consent. You should have an attorney review your lease and advise you of your options to terminate the tenancy. Breach of lease/rental agreement termination notices vary depending on the area your property is located in and whether rent control applies so it is important to seek legal advice to make sure that the termination notice you serve is enforceable. 

Q: I signed a one-year lease with two tenants and the lease is expiring. One of the tenants has chosen to move out of the rental unit while the other wants to stay on a month-to-month basis. Do I have to return the security deposit?

A: No, you are not required to return the security deposit until all tenants under the same lease/rental agreement have vacated the premises.  However, if you assigned the security deposit amounts individually on the lease/rental agreement, then you would be required to return the tenant’s portion of the security deposit when he vacates.

Q: I am a landlord and have a unit rented to one tenant. My tenant got a roommate and signed a sublease with them. Now, my tenant wants my help to evict the subtenant. Do I need to file the eviction? 

A: No, the tenant must evict the subtenant. When a tenant subleases a property, they are acting as the landlord to the subtenant and are required to file the eviction. If the tenant is breaking your lease by having a subtenant or is breaching the lease in any other way, then you may evict both the tenant and subtenant. If you allowed the tenant to sublet the premises, then you may encourage your tenant to seek legal assistance with the matter.  

Q: California rent control applies to my apartment building in San Diego. My tenant requested a roommate after living in the apartment for 11 months. Does adding a new occupant to the lease/rental agreement delay the date rent control goes into effect for this rental unit?

A: Yes, if an additional occupant is added to the existing lease/rental agreement before one occupant has occupied the property for more than 24 months, then the date California rent control is effective for the unit is delayed. Rent control applies once 1) all tenants have occupied the property continuously for 12 months or more or 2) one or more tenants have continuously occupied the property continuously for 24 months. In this situation, since the original tenant occupied the property for less than 24 months and is adding a new tenant to the existing tenancy, California rent control does not go into effect until the original tenant has been occupying the property for 24 months. 


Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center, has been doing evictions for over 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego.  Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: or email [email protected]