Q: My tenant is requesting to add a roommate to her lease. Do I have to allow my tenant to have a roommate?
A: It depends on the terms of your lease. As a landlord, you may include a clause in your lease or rental agreement that authorizes or prohibits your tenant from having a roommate. If you allow your tenant to have a roommate, you should screen the potential roommate as you would any other applicant.
If the prospective roommate does not qualify, then you may deny their application. If the prospective roommate qualifies, then you may request your existing tenant and the new tenant sign an addendum to your lease to add the new tenant or execute a new lease/rental agreement. Either option will ensure that the new tenant has the same rights and obligations as the original tenant.
Q: I’m a landlord and have three tenants on one rental agreement in my unit. The tenants paid me one security deposit. One of the tenants is moving and wants his portion of the security deposit back. Do I have to return his portion of the deposit to him?
A: No, you are not required to return the security deposit until all tenants under the same rental agreement have vacated the premises. However, if you assigned the security deposit amounts individually on the rental agreement, then you would be required to return the tenant’s portion of the security deposit when he vacates.
Q: My tenant has always had a lot of roommates to help him pay the rent. I allow him to sublet to two people at a time. He stopped paying the rent two months ago and now one of the roommates told me the original tenant moved out. What do I do?
A: The original tenant that moved did not give you possession of the property and you are still entitled to rent. You may serve the tenant with a three day notice to pay rent or quit and begin the eviction process as soon as possible. If you know the subtenants’ names, then include them on the notice. You may also try to make an agreement with the subtenants to move or enter into a new rental agreement and pay you the rent that is owed.
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 a 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: I rent an apartment to two tenants. One of the tenants is moving and the other tenant is getting a new roommate. Do I have to sign a new rental agreement with the new tenant?
A: No, you are not required to sign a new rental agreement with the new tenant. However, it is a good idea to either execute a new rental agreement or complete an addendum to the current rental agreement that releases the tenant that is moving and binds the new tenant to the existing contract.
[Editor’s Note: Please see AOA’s form 124 – Roommate Addendum. AOA members may download forms for FREE at www.aoausa.com.]
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: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org