Owner Wants Tenant, Not Her Fiance

Special to The Times; This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif

QUESTION: A few months ago I rented one room in my three-bedroom home in order to share some expenses. Two weeks ago, my tenant's fiance moved in with her, and I don't know how long he plans to stay. As I have indicated in the rental agreement, I do not want more than one tenant in my house. What are my rights as a landlord in this situation?

A: You do have a right to specify how many tenants can share your home with you. You should first try to speak with your tenant in order to make sure that she fully understands the provisions of her rental contract. If necessary, point out the section naming her as the only legal tenant. If you find that she does not wish to discuss the matter with you, or that she refuses to honor her contract, then you may give her a conditional three-day notice in writing, offering her the opportunity to either remove her fiance from your house or face eviction of them both.

Alternatively, you may also seek assistance from your local mediation service. Perhaps with some negotiation, your tenant's fiance can reduce his visiting hours to a reasonable level or prove he maintains his own residence elsewhere. If such measures do not remedy the situation, then you may be forced to evict them both with a three-day notice.

Making Ex-'Adults Only' Complex Kids-Friendly

Q: My husband and I and our two children live in a complex that was designed as an "adults only" residence back in the 1960s. At that time, it was legal to exclude children from such complexes, so we understand why the builders did not see a need to provide amenities for children. Now that the law has changed however, our children live in a setting that was designed with only adults in mind and suffer because they have no place to play. The stringent rules enforced by management add additional complications. The management feels small patches of grass outside the units will be ruined if they are constantly used as playgrounds. How do you think we could go about getting the management to loosen up on its policies toward children?

A: It sounds like it's time to contact a local agency that can arrange a mediation between you and the owners and managers. By taking this approach, you may be able to engage in an open, honest dialogue about the situation and, in turn, find workable solutions that will please both the families with children and the management. Perhaps with some creativity, an existing outdoor space could be turned into a small play area, or a meeting or recreation room that gets little adult use could be turned into an area suitable for children's use. A mediator can help you and your neighbors facilitate a productive discussion with management. Restrictive rental rules that you are unable to modify through the mediation process may be a form of familial status discrimination and should be referred to your local fair housing agency for investigation.

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