Los Angeles, CA asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Can I be held responsible if I give proper notice to everyone (landlord & roommates) but roommates won't leave?

I'm the only one on lease but landlord was informed about roommates but didn't have them fill out applications. I'm in california lived here 6 years and am on a month to month lease. If I move completely out and gave proper notices to everyone can landlord sue me if roommates dont leave? How can I get out of this situation if I cant evict them thru courts?

3 Lawyer Answers
Marco Antonio Torres
Marco Antonio Torres
PREMIUM
Answered
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The landlord can initiate an unlawful detainer against you and the remaining subtenants if you issue a 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy and your subtenants do not move out on or before your termination date.

You would be well served to initiate the termination of your subtenant's subtenancy, wait until they vacate, and then proceed to notice your landlord once the subtenants are out. Otherwise, if you move out and leave the subtenants behind then your landlord can either enter into a new arrangement with the subtenant (uncommon in my experience) or alternatively initiate eviction proceedings against you (and the remaining subtenants) for failure to vacate the premises by the termination date of your 30 day notice.

Complicating the issue of evictions is the COVID-19 eviction moratorium- which add an additional layer of time before you can actually evict a tenant/subtenant if he/she/they are do not vacate willing pursuant to a properly noticed termination of tenancy.

Maurice Mandel II agrees with this answer

John Francis Nicholson
John Francis Nicholson
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Woodland Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I agree with Mr. Torres but would like to give you more information that may help you resolve your problem. You have several problems here, but first there are some facts missing.

Are the subtenants paying rent? Do they want to stay and be responsible for the amount of rent on your lease agreement? Are they complying with the terms of your agreement with them? If they are in breach of their agreement with you, then you can evict them by serving a 3-day notice to remedy the breach or quit the premises. If they don’t do either, then you can file an eviction action. If they are not in breach then instead of a 3-day notice you have to serve them with a 30-day notice to vacate, providing your agreement with them is month-to-month.

Next, you have to examine your lease in detail and see if it addresses subleasing. Often leases address the issue and state that you must get the landlord’s permission in writing. That did not happen. Your back-up is that you have some proof that you informed the landlord that you were going to have subtentants. e.g. email, or text message. Also, if your subtenants engaged in conversation with the landlord, or in some way informed him that they live with you, that is satisfactory notice to the landlord. If you have proof then the landlord waived any objection to the subtenants, but that only addresses the landlord’s consent to their presence.

Even if you prove the landlord knew about the subtenants that does not get you off the hook. The fact that you are the only tenant on the lease makes you responsible for what happens on the premises. Also, the landlord has no contractual relationship with the subtenants. You would be better off if the subtenants signed an amended lease that included them because then they can be sued by the landlord for any damages suffered by the landlord for the eviction, lost rent, etc.

If you give the landlord proper notice pursuant to the lease that you are terminating the lease then you must get the subtenants to vacate the premises also. If you move out and the subtenants remain you have not legally “surrendered” the premises because the landlord can’t take possession if the subtenants remain in possession. He/she will have to file an eviction action and can include you as a party, and/or attribute his/her damages to you as well as the subtenants because you are equally the legal cause for having to file an eviction action.

You should try to resolve this matter by an “assignment” where the landlord agrees to replace the subtenants as the primary tenants and relieving you from any further liability. But to do so the subtenants have to agree to accept assignment of your lease.

If negotiations don’t work then you should evict the subtenants. Good luck.

Maurice Mandel II agrees with this answer

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You are on the hook.

The reason I am writing is that these great answers above obscure the direct answer to your question. I like both answers and everything they say is 100% correct.

Best thing to do with the difficult roommates is find some lease violation they are committing and give them a 3 day notice. Are they smoking on the premises? Did they park in someone else's spot? Are they hot waxing their surfboards on the carpet? (this happened to me) But then you run into the COVID moratorium. But that may be your saving grace, because by the time the LL can go after you to collect, if you get the roommates out, it may be so little and so late that he won't want to. (yeah, and Aesop will put you into a fable- The renter that got away.)

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