The lease for my studio rental clearly states only one person shall live in my property at a time. The space is only around 325 square feet, but it’s in a good location close to shops, restaurants, bars, parks, and the Bay. For $1,100 dollars a month, the unit is a steal!
My tenant always pays on time and never causes problems since she moved in two years ago. However, at 28 years old, she’s in the prime of her dating life. She always has a guy(s) staying with her now.
How do I know? Because I live nearby and bump into them at all hours. I see them when I go for a bike ride at 7:30am. I see them when I’m coming back from lunch. And I see them after a 2am jaunt at the bars. The guys are clearly living with her.
I don’t care if she has a different guy every week as it’s not my place to dictate. San Francisco is all about free loving, baby! What I do have a problem with is the constant double occupancy for a single occupancy lease.
Two occupants will obviously wear a place out faster than a single occupant. There’s twice as much use of the bathroom and appliances. There’s twice as much foot traffic on the floor. And there’s twice as much liability!
WHAT IS UP WITH GUYS NOWADAYS?
There once was a time where men took women home to their place for sexy time. Even if the guy shared a studio with another guy, it did not matter because according to the man code, the roommate would allow for enough privacy time until finished.
I can undertand putting aside a man’s pride to stay over at my tenant’s place if it was a sweet 1,000 square feet apartment overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge with a hot tub on the deck. However, my place is a shoebox with no view.
Could the men in her life have apartments that are even worse than my studio? Hard to imagine. Are the men she’s dating all deadbeats? Maybe. I’ve come up with explanations as to why her boyfriends are always staying over for extended periods of time.
Why Men Stay With Women During Courtship
1) He lives at home with his parents. I would much rather hook up in a shoe box than hook up with my parents next door wouldn’t you?
2) He lives with another woman already and don’t want the new woman to know! My tenant is the “other” woman and has no idea what her boyfriend is up to.
3) He lives in bumblehuck nowhere and works in the city. My studio is in a great location in SF.
4) He lives in a pigsty. Perhaps my tenant is super clean.
5) She feels uncomfortable living at his place.
If you have other plausible explanations I would love to hear them!
TACTFUL WAYS TO REMOVE AN UNLAWFUL TENANT
Truth be told, I’m more interested in this social dynamic than having another occupant. However, if there’s ever a point where I become sufficiently agitated, here are some steps to consider:
1) Call or e-mail immediately. Being a landlord is a business. If your tenant is doing something unlawful, then call or e-mail them with a courtesy heads up. If they don’t pick up or respond, go to your property and have a face-to-face conversation about your concerns. Do not beat around the bush. Be friendly, but directly with a copy of the lease in hand where you point out the violations.
2) Bring back up. If you bring your spouse, business partner, or a really large fella with fangs, it helps get the message across that you are serious about upholding the contractual agreement. By having someone with you, your tenant will realize you’re not the only person s/he has to deal with. The more people who are aware about the tenant violation, the more likely your tenant will comply.
3) Talk about liability. Liability is your best friend when it comes to coming up with a reason, and not wanting to seem like an evil person. You must highlight their liability for continuing to have an extra occupant, renting out your place on AirBnB for their benefit, smoking weed on the balcony, inviting a murderer to sleep with you and so forth. When they realize the massive financial liability for unlawful conduct, they will hopefully change.
4) Raise the rent. You should always be raising the rent over time due to the nature of inflation. Your costs are going up and so should rent to cover your costs. Each location has a limit to how much you can raise and when. In San Francisco, I can raise the rent by up to 10% with a 30 day warning, and up to 60% with a 60 day warning if my unit is not under rent control. Be more aggressive in your rental raising rights if your tenants cause you trouble. You don’t want to be left earning under market rent when it comes time for the six-month eviction process.
5) Get a court order. If all else fails, drop off a written warning notice, then a court summons (Unlawful Detainer). This is really the last step in trying to evict an unlawful tenant. It’s painful and time consuming. Below is a list of reasons for why a landlord can evict a tenant.
JUST CAUSES FOR SF
- Non-payment of rent.
- Violation of a lawful obligation under the lease, i.e. habitual late payment of rent.
- Tenant is creating a nuisance and disturbing other tenants or damaging property.
- Landlord or a family member intends to move into the unit (see owner move-in below).
- Landlord plans to perform capital improvements which require the tenant to temporarily vacate the unit (see below).
- The unit is being used for illegal purposes.
- Tenant refuses to renew a rental agreement that is materially the same. (Note that tenants are not obligated to sign an agreement that is materially different than the one they currently have, no matter how old the original agreement is.)
- Tenant refuses the landlord access to the rental unit, as required by state or local law.
- Landlord seeks to sell the unit in accordance with the condominium conversion rules under the SF Subdivision Ordinance.
- Unapproved subtenant is the only remaining tenant.
- Landlord plans to take the building off the market for 10 years.
- Landlord seeks to substantially rehabilitate or completely rebuild the unit.
- Landlord plans to demolish or remove permanently the unit from the rental market. (This is often used for illegal units.)
- Landlord needs to temporarily evict the tenant in order to get rid of lead paint.
- The landlord seeks to recover possession in good faith in order to demolish or to otherwise permanently remove the rental unit from housing use in accordance with the terms of a development agreement entered into by the City under Chapter 56 of the San Francisco Administrative Code.
- The tenant’s Good Samaritan Status has expired, and the landlord exercises the right to recover possession by serving a notice of termination of tenancy within 60 days after expiration of the Original and any Extended Good Samaritan Status Period.
In a day and age when men are becoming less like men and property expenses continue to rise, you will inevitably have a tenant who cheats on their lease by having more occupants. Landlords need to be more vigilant about their properties. Don’t forget to get an umbrella policy (article explains the ins and outs) and encourage your tenants to get renter’s insurance. You might need it very soon!
Look into real estate crowdsourcing opportunities: If you don’t have the downpayment to buy a property, are sick of dealing with bad tenants, or don’t want to tie up your liquidity in physical real estate, take a look at Fundrise, one of the largest real estate crowdsourcing companies today. Real estate is a key component of a diversified portfolio. If you study the asset allocation mix of college endowment funds and high net worth individuals, you’ll see real estate weightings of anywhere between 5% -25%. Real estate crowdsourcing also allows you to be more flexible in your real estate investments by investing beyond just where you live for the best returns possible. For example, cap rates around around 4% – 5% in San Francisco, but over 10% in the Midwest if you’re looking for strictly investing income returns. Check out my Fundrise review as well.
Shop around for a mortgage: Mortgage rates have collapsed after Brexit, and US assets are aggressively being bought by foreigners due to our stability. Check the latest mortgage rates online through LendingTree. They’ve got one of the largest networks of lenders that compete for your business. Your goal should be to get as many written offers as possible and then use the offers as leverage to get the lowest interest rate possible. This is exactly what I did to lock in a 2.375% 5/1 ARM for my latest refinance. For those looking to purchase property, the same thing is in order. If you’ve found a good deal, can afford the payments, and plan to own the property for 10+ years, I’d get neutral inflation and take advantage of the low rates.
Updated for 2017 and beyond.