How to Evict a Roommate in California


Evicting roommates can be a touchy area, even more than a regular eviction, since the roommates share close quarters and are living under the same roof!  This post will briefly explain the process for evicting a roommate in California.

Roommate situations generally fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Where all roommates have a contract with the landlord
  2. Where a roommate has an agreement with a tenant who has an agreement with the landlord.

Out of both of these roommate situations, the first one is better.  The second roommate situation has many potential problems.

Roommate Scenario 1

All roommates sign a lease with the landlord.  Each roommate/tenant has a contract with the landlord. We recommend a separate lease between each roommate, but it’s also possible to  have one lease with everyone’s name on it.  If you use one lease, make sure the agreement says that all tenants are equally liable for the full rent and obligations under the rental agreement. In order to evict a roommate, the landlord would probably need to be the one acting as plaintiff (a co-roommate could not evict another roommate).  The eviction procedures would be the same as discussed here.

Roommate Scenario 2

Under the second roommate scenario, one or more roommates are subtenants of the roommate that made the agreement with the landlord.  This is not recommended.  The original agreement between the landlord and tenant may expressly forbid a tenant from subleasing.  This may create a breach of the agreement between the landlord and the tenant.  These other occupants may even be considered a “lodger” under the law (but it is risky to assume this).  Cities with rent control ordinances further complicates this scenario.

Need help with an eviction in Southern California?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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