Santa Barbara, CA asked in Contracts, Arbitration / Mediation Law, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for California

Q: In Santa Barbara, CA can my roommate charge me more for a smaller room than he pays? I’m not on the lease.

I only have a verbal agreement with my roommate, who is on the lease and I understand is functioning as my landlord. Is it legal for my roommate to charge me $900 for a smaller room when they pay less than $800 for larger, better room? I was supposed to only pay $850, but was told to pay $900 when I had already started moving. I paid this for a few months out of good will and generosity. I saw a letter that showed a rent increase from the property manager and found that I was paying part of my roommates rent, which I found very unfair. At this point, I mentioned that I was initially told to pay $850, but then it changed to $900 - both figures are higher than my roommate’s payments. I am not happy to know I am helping someone else pay for their own room, which is bigger and better than my small box of a room. I am not on the lease and recently the verbal agreement is being changed to a written agreement - is it legal to make these changes once a tenant is already in a room? Please help

1 Lawyer Answer
N. Munro Merrick
N. Munro Merrick
  • Arbitration & Mediation Lawyer
  • Del Mar, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You say you are not on the lease, that is, you have no agreement with the landlord. If he is subletting to you without the landlord's consent, he is probably in violation of his lease and subject to immediate eviction, in which case you would also be evicted..

Assuming he gets his landlord's consent to sublet to you, what you pay him is determined by negotiations between you two. As far as you are concerned, it is his house to do with as he pleases. If you are unhappy with your room, you have the option of going elsewhere. But he is liable on the lease. If you failed to pay, he still has to pay the landlord.

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