The high cost of living in California has prompted many homeowners to seek extra income by renting out part of their home to an individual while continuing to live in the unrented portion. This type of landlord-tenant relationship is commonly known as a “single family lodger” arrangement. Evicting a “lodger” under California law is easier than evicting a regular tenant. This article summarizes the so called “lodger rule” governing the eviction of a lodger from the dwelling.
Who Qualifies as a Lodger?
Under Civil Code § 1946.5, a “lodger” is defined as a person contracting with a homeowner for a room within a dwelling unit that is personally occupied by the homeowner. (Civ. C. § 1946.5.) The singularity of this definition (“a person”) precludes couples from qualifying as a “lodger” under the statute. Additionally, to classify a guest/tenant as a lodger, the homeowner must retain access to all areas of the dwelling unit and have overall control of the dwelling unit. (Id.)
The Lodger Rule
The lodger rule authorized a faster and less expensive eviction procedure landlords can use a to evict a tenant who qualifies as such. If the landlord rents out a room to no more than one person, he or she may terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant a notice. If the lodger remains in possession at the expiration of the notice period, the homeowner can then treat the lodger as a trespasser and have the lodger removed accordingly. (Civ. C. § 1946.5; See Penal C. § 602.3.) The homeowner/landlord can remove the lodger without having to go through formal eviction proceedings.
The equitable principle underlying the lodger rule is that a landlord who lives in the same house as the tenant should have more control over the house than the degree of control existing in the usual landlord tenant situation. This is by far the biggest and most prevalent difference between traditional landlord-tenant law and the law governing single family lodger situations.
Length of Notice
The length of notice to be given to a lodger must be the same as the number of days between rent payments. In other words, if rent payments are due weekly, the noticed period must be at least 7 days. If rent is due monthly, the notice period would be 30 days. This is different from the rule applicable to any other month-to-month tenant, who is entitled to 60 days’ notice after living at the premises for over a year, regardless of the rental payment period.
Manner of Serving of Notice
Notice can be given by any of the methods described in Code of Civil Procedure section § 1162. More specifically, the notice can be served personally or by leaving a copy with a person of suitable age if the party to be served is not present. If no one is home service may be effected by “posting and mailing”.
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