Legal Q&A – Subtenants in Your Rental Units

Owner’s rights under the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. - Written by Clifford Fried - Posted May 10, 2016

Legal Q&A – Subtenants in Your Rental Units

Q. I had two tenants sign a rental agreement and now one of the two is moving and wants his friend to take his place. What should an owner do when an original occupant who took possession under the rental agreement with the owner moves out, no longer permanently resides in the unit, and a replacement roommate takes the place of the departing original occupant? My property is in Oakland and is subject to the Rent Adjustment Ordinance.

A. The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act permits an owner to raise the rent to market to a subtenant or assignee, when the last original occupant who took possession pursuant to the rental agreement no longer permanently resides in the unit. This law doesn’t apply to partial changes in occupancy. All original occupants must vacate before the owner can raise the rent to market.

Costa Hawkins isn’t clear about what constitutes an original occupant who took possession pursuant to the rental agreement. Some published decisions seem to say. . .

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