Tenant Troubles: Did Gavin Newsom Make It Harder For My Boyfriend To Move In With Me?

I recently came across this post from 2011. I’m facing a similar situation (though haven’t gotten to the stage of asking my landlord yet, just want to know my rights before I start the process). I live in a two bedroom, rent controlled apartment, and I’m the only one on the lease. My lease forbids subletting and says I need the landlord’s permission to add occupants.

My boyfriend would like to move in with me so we can both save on rent. I’ve seen references to a law passed in 2009 that you can add roommates even if the lease forbids it. How does that law factor into the response you gave in the article above?

The additional “catch” in my situation is that my boyfriend has 50% custody of his two kids, so they’d be living with us half the time. How do the kids impact the situation? If I go and ask permission to have my boyfriend move in, do I even need to mention the kids?

Tenant Troubles Archives

Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com. Here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

The 2009 law referenced in the Los Angeles Times article linked to your question would have barred landlords from increasing rent above 33% of a tenant’s income and allowed tenants to add roommates other than family members to help pay rent. It was passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on June 23, 2009.

The law was later vetoed by the mayor (Now Lt. Governor), Gavin Newsom, the rapacious, oily narcissist and shill for the real estate industry who could occasionally squeeze out a crocodile tear for tenants. If you feel smoke blowing up your ass, it’s because your house is burning down.

You don’t mention if you had roommates in the past. If you did, the process to add your boyfriend would be fairly straightforward. San Francisco Rent Board Rules & Regulations §6.15B provides the procedure for adding a subtenant if the roommate is a one-for-one replacement  of an outgoing roommate. Rent Ordinance §37.9(a)(2)(A) states:

Provided that notwithstanding any lease provision to the contrary, a landlord shall not endeavor to recover possession of a rental unit as a result of subletting of the rental unit by the tenant if the landlord has unreasonably withheld the right to sublet following a written request by the tenant, so long as the tenant continues to reside in the rental unit and the sublet constitutes a one-for-one replacement of the departing tenant(s).  If the landlord fails to respond to the tenant in writing within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the tenant’s written request, the tenant’s request shall be deemed approved by the landlord.

If your boyfriend isn’t replacing a former roommate, you might be better off marrying him.

The Rent Ordinance allows a tenant to add family member, spouse or domestic partner to the tenancy. Rent Ordinance §37.9(a)(2)(B) also provides:

A landlord’s reasonable refusal of the tenant’s written request may not be based on the proposed additional occupant’s lack of creditworthiness, if that person will not be legally obligated to pay some or all of the rent to the landlord.

With respect to your boyfriend’s children, you can also add them to the tenancy under Rent Ordinance §37.9(a)(2)(B) as long as the total number of occupants does not exceed the maximum number of occupants stated in the ordinance. If you case, the maximum allowable number of occupants is four (4) for a two-bedroom unit, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe it’s time to reintroduce the 2009 amendment to understand if the current Supes have any guts and to see how Mr. Lee treats the legislation if it passes.

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Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

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  • They were actually two separate ordinances: one would have prohibited rent increases on rent-burdened tenants (file 090278 linked above), and the other would have allowed roommates. That’s file 090279:

  • Forthright

    It would indeed be interesting to see how the measure might fare today..

  • Un La

    So let’s say I’m the poor slob renter who is living in the unit below/next to this woman, now suddenly my neighbor count went from one to FOUR, with TWO kids running around playing, screaming, and jumping on the floor/banging on the walls. That’s fine and all for you guys but I DIDN’T sign up for this crap when I rented my unit. Who’s looking out for the poor slob who had to put up with y’all.

    You know what, if you want to live together with your bf and kids, go find a space that will accommodate the four of you. Quit taking advantage of other people. Newsom was right on.

    • KM

      Uh, you do realize that could happen anyway, it’s part of life as an apartment-dweller. If the unit above/next to you vacates, the landlord may very well rent it to a couple with children.

      • Or the neighbor could, you know, give birth.

        • Un La

          Which neighbors do you know of can give birth to children who can immediately run, jump, and yell??? There is a suddenness to this issue that you don’t seem to get. One day, peace and quiet and the next day, BOOM!!!!

          The peace and quiet of other renters MUST BE taken into consideration here. It’s the RIGHT of every tenant to enjoy peace and quietness.

          • Making something up and saying it’s a “right” doesn’t make it a right.

          • Un La

            Oh, you mean the right for a tenant to suddenly move in a bunch of people without the property owner or the neighbors’ approval?? Hmm… interesting thought.

          • Seems like you’ve already forgotten what you were talking about. You were claiming that if your neighbors have children, that’s infringing on some kind of make-believe “right” that you have. I’m calling bullshit on that.

          • Un La

            Exactly. This so called “right” for my neighbor renter to suddenly infringed on my peace and quietness by moving in a new family is exactly what I’m talking about. Or maybe you’ve forgotten?

            If you think a “make-believe” right for someone to move in new people without the property owner’s approval is a right, then my right to not to have to deal with my neighbor’s suddenly ballooned household is just as valid as this other “make-believe” right you’re claiming. It’s the same BS whether you acknowledge it or not. You can’t stay at an hotel and freely move in your family without the hotel’s approval, somehow this moving in your family to a property is allowed? BS on you. BS on the law. I’m glad Newsom vetoed it.

          • So you think you have the right to decide whether you’re neighbors can have children? LOL! Good luck with that.

          • Un La

            Wow, way to twist my argument. But that’s probably the only way you can win this. Nice try.

          • Who’s twisting your argument? First you claim you have the make-believe “right” to control who lives next to you, then when the prospect of children is brought up you completely dance around the topic?

            It’s one thing to lack the maturity to admit you’re wrong, it’s another thing entirely to be a sore loser.

          • Un La

            Sore loser? Looks who’s talking. LOL.

            I like how you said I danced around the topic when I’ve already written three posts on it. This makes the fourth post but apparently that’s still dancing around the topic in your universe.

            I like how in your mind, the right to control who lives in a property that you don’t own but rented in is a legit right. But the right to control who lives in a property that you don’t own but rented next to is not a right. If the first part is a right then the second part should be a right too based on principle. But of course, you will never get that. If we’re going to remove the right for property owners to have a say in who lives in their possession and give that right to the renters, then renters shall have that right and as a renter I’d object to my neighbors moving in more people than is allowed. It’s called protecting the renters. You can’t just pick and choose which renters to protect and which get pushed to the wayside.

          • Another post, another flailing around the issue of children. Either address it, or don’t bother responding.

          • Un La

            Another post, another blatant twisting of an issue that I did not raise and is not relevant to the topic.

            This may be that it feels like to be talking to Homer Simpson.

          • So when you said:

            So let’s say I’m the poor slob renter who is living in the unit
            below/next to this woman, now suddenly my neighbor count went from one
            to FOUR, with TWO kids running around playing, screaming, and jumping on
            the floor/banging on the walls.

            You were not talking about children? Give me a break. You’re the troll who won’t give up.

          • Un La

            I mentioned the noise and disturbance caused by bringing in more people, including children but just noise, disturbance, and the reduction in quality of life in general. You turned it into like I have an anti-children agenda or something. Noise, disturance, and quality of life not does = ” the right to decide whether you’re neighbors can have children.”

            Do you get it now? McFly?

          • Look, let’s step back and try this again: You still haven’t explained how your make-believe “right” to decide who moves in next to you doesn’t prohibit you from also deciding that your neighbors can have children.

            How you can not understand your hypocrisy here is beyond me. Maybe you don’t understand where babies come from? Do I have to explain the “birds and the bees” to you?

          • Un La

            How many times do I have to repeat? It’s the suddenness of it that’s the problem. One day peace and quiet, the next day – BOOM!! Noise, jumping, and screaming.

            If my neighbor has a new born, fine, a baby doesn’t jump, doesn’t run, doesn’t bang on the wall. It cries but I can deal with it. I would have a few years to figure out what to do next, I’d have plenty of time to look for another place to rent.

            If my landlord allows the children to be there, fine, it’s the landlord’s property, do whatever the hell the landlord wants with it. I will not like it but I will say nothing.

            But you’re talking about an instance where the landlord doesn’t allow it but you still force the children into the home, against the property owner’s and against the other renters’ well being. THAT’s the problem. It has nothing to do with children, it has everything to do with fairness and quality of life. If you are going to say, “F*** the property owner, he has no say. It’s the RENTER who gets to decide” Then I’m afraid as a renter, my quality of life needs to be considered too and not just the cheapstake who’re too cheap to rent a someplace where they’re welcome.

            So what should the woman do? How about they go somewhere and rent from a landlord/manager who actually allows children?? Huh? What a novel idea right? I don’t care if they have children or not. I care that they are infringing on my quality of life. You DO NOT SEEM TO GET THIS.

            Do you get it now? I honestly am trying my best to explain things to you and break it down nicely. If you still don’t get it then there may not be hope for you.

          • I would have a few years to figure out what to do next…

            LOL. Sure you will. Because babies grow up soooo slowly!

          • Un La

            Seriously. This is what you’re debating with me now?

            Grasping at straws much?

            Ok, fine. I admit, maybe not a few years but I should have at least one year. Happy now?

            The rest of the argument still stands.

          • No, it doesn’t. But whatever, the important thing is you feel that you’re correct about everything.

      • Un La

        @KM, landlord renting out a rent controlled unit to a couple with two
        kids knowing that there will be a great chance they will live there for decades (at least until the children is grown)?!! …. In San Francisco?!! HA HA HA. Nice try. You think this city is Walnut Creek or something?? Reality of rent control is that couple w/kids will never get into a rent control unit. A condo maybe, a single family home maybe, a rent control unit, HA HA HA. You’re funny.

        • 94103er

          You are either smoking crack or really stupid. What you are suggesting is completely illegal.