Three Tenant Troubles: Roommate Rousting, Co-Tenant Challenges, Condo Craziness

I’m the master tenant in my three-bedroom apartment. Me and one other roommate are unhappy with the third roommate for a number of reasons I won’t get in to (none of which fall under the “just cause” list for reasons for eviction). She’s a headache and a mess but she does pay her rent.

I don’t believe she signed a lease when she moved in. I can’t find a copy of it in my files.

My landlord gave me permission to sublet and told me that the subletters don’t have the same rights for eviction and I can ask them to leave at any time without just cause. If we want to ask the third roommate to leave is that true?

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.

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Free advice is worth the price”? Getting eviction advice from your landlord is like getting dating advice from that uncle who’s spent most of his adult life in prison–your landlord is probably willing to evict anything that moves. San Francisco Rent Board Rules & Regulations §6.15C(1) is clear on this point:

For any tenancy commencing on or after May 25, 1998, a landlord who is not an owner of record of the property and who resides in the same rental unit with his or her tenant (a “Master Tenant”) may evict said tenant without just cause as required under Section 37.9(a) only if, prior to commencement of the tenancy, the Master Tenant informs the tenant in writing that the tenancy is not subject to the just cause provisions of Section 37.9.

If you do not have a sublease with your roommate, you’ll have to make like the late Rodney King and try to get along.

Remember, I will not represent nor will I provide advice to master tenants seeking to evict their subtenants.

I am named on the lease in the SF rent controlled building where we currently rent (Tenancy since 1979!).

My co-tenant is not named on the lease, but has been my co-tenant from February 1993, well before implementation of Costa Hawkins.

If I were to leave, would my co-tenant therefore be protected from egregious rent increases per your article, “Another Tenant Screwed By Costa Hawkins“?

Yes, your co-tenant would be protected because he or she has a tenancy created before the enactment of Costa Hawkins.

Your co-tenant must be able to prove that fact. Start to gather records that show your co-tenant occupied the unit with the landlord’s consent before 1996. Get voter registration documents, driver’s license information, old PG&E bills–any documents that corroborate residence dated prior to 1996. For good measure, if you still have them, collect old Christmas cards with post marked envelopes.

We live in the a 595-unit condo complex constructed in 2005.

We rented our condo in The Beacon from the condo’s owner in July 2012. We signed a one year lease and have been month-to-month since July 2013. Our landlord emailed us just before New Year’s Eve to let us know he planned to list the condo for sale. He expressed interest in selling to us if we are interested, especially since the buyer may not want to continue renting the unit. We told him to let us know that asking price for the unit and to please give us proper legal notice once he has more information.

Since receiving this information, we have not heard from the landlord again. His realtor emailed saying they are finalizing the sale price and will be in touch.

We are exploring our options to buy in San Francisco, but have recently discovered that due to an ongoing lawsuit between the building owners and the developer/architectlenders will not give mortgage loans for the Beacon, our lender included.

Now that we know we cannot buy the unit we live in, regardless of the sale price, we would like to know what our rights are as tenants. Our lease states that once our lease goes to month-to-month after the term of our one-year lease, the landlord must give us 60 days notice of an eviction and we must give him 30 days notice if we are to move.

As of yet, we have not received any “official” notice, just mention that he plans to sell.

What are our rights at this point? Anything we should know that is to our advantage or does he just have to give us 60 days notice…and that’s it?

That’s it.  You have a right to a 60 day notice but nothing else.

Welcome to California’s version of tenant rights–no just cause evictions. They have ‘em in New Jersey and a few other states, but not here. Good luck getting the griftocrats, the mosquitos feeding on the real estate industry leeches, in the California Legislature to pass such a law.

Paraphrasing the character, Gold Hat, in the classic 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Rights? We got no rights. We don’t need no stinking rights!

the author

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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  • njudah

    I have a question (sort of ) related to this article – as more and more condos are built (and presumably some might end up being rented out, as is often the case in most condo buildings), and as these new rental units (NEMA et al) come on line, does this mean that tenant protections overall are going to be eroded, since they won’t be covered by SF’s rent laws?

    • cedichou

      any property built after 1979 is not protected by rent control. I think you still need just cause to evict, but since the landlord can always increase the rent to squeeze you out, it’s kinda moot.

      Also, condos have different rules regarding rent control.

      But it does not affect exisiting per-1979 properties, so current protections overall are not eroded by having there new units.

    • Dave Crow

      I want to be very clear on this. Units built after 1979 are not covered by the Rent Ordinance at all–no caps on rent, no just cause eviction.

      Hypothetically, if the big earthquake hits and all the buildings built before1979 were destroyed, rent control would cease to exist in SF.

      Of course that won’t be true, especially given the shoddy construction on most of these ugly-new-piece-of-shit lofts or whatever the hell they call them.

      • njudah

        this confirms my biggest fear about another big quake. that, and the ads in the non English real estate ads about Costa Hawkins and other workshops on “how to evict rent controlled tenants” i keep seeing..