Landlord/Tenant Law Legal Topics Real Property Law

Can a Landlord Limit a Tenant’s Guests?

For landlords, the most important provisions in a lease or rental agreement may be those that limit the number of persons occupying the premises and that require tenants to specify their identities. This prevents a tenant’s guests from turning into tenants. But balancing this potential problem with allowing reasonable guest overnight stays requires a carefully considered lease provision.

Although CC §798.34 applies only to mobilehome tenancies, residential landlords should use it for guidance: It limits guest occupancy to 20 consecutive days or 30 days in a calendar year.

But depending on the size of the unit and the number of occupants, the landlord might want to limit guests more strictly (e.g., by specifying that no more than one guest be allowed on the premises at one time), or to limit severely the number of days that a guest may reside on the premises.

Here is sample language to consider:

Tenant may have guests on the premises for not more than _ _[e.g., 15]_ _ consecutive days or _ _[e.g., 30]_ _ days in a calendar year, and no more than _ _[e.g., two]_ _ guests at any one time. Tenant may not take in any boarders, lodgers, or roommates. Any guest whose stay exceeds the specified limits, or any boarder, lodger, or roommate, is not a tenant of the premises, and will be subject to eviction by Landlord under legal process without prior service of notice to quit or other termination notice.

Note that the validity under state law of the last sentence in the provision hasn’t yet been tested in any reported case. If in doubt, don’t rely on a guest provision, and make sure that all occupants are served with notice before filing an unlawful detainer action.

Another possible way to limit guests is to charge for them. Again, take guidance from the Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) (CC §§798–799.11), which allows for charges for guests who stay with the tenant for more than a total of 20 consecutive days or a total of 30 days in a calendar year. CC §798.34. Landlords could insert a provision for charges to the tenant for guests staying over a limited time. There’s no statutory or case law on this, so it’s uncertain whether it will hold up.

As with all landlord-tenant issues, determine whether any provision you add to a lease conflicts with the local rent control ordinance.

For everything you need to know about drafting leases, turn to CEB’s California Landlord-Tenant Practice, chap 1.

Other CEBblog™ articles you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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