Booting Out Unlawful Tenants: Be A Man And Have Her Stay With You!

Crappy Rental in Belgium

Unlawful tenants are very aggravating for the landlord. They wear and tear the property and create liability risk. Booting out unlawful tenants can be hard, but it is the right thing to do.

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!


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. Why bother being an unlawful tenant?

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! Being an unlawful tenant hurts your reputation.


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 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 To Remove Unlawful Tenants In SF

  1. Non-payment of rent.
  2. Violation of a lawful obligation under the lease, i.e. habitual late payment of rent.
  3. Tenant is creating a nuisance and disturbing other tenants or damaging property.
  4. Landlord or a family member intends to move into the unit (see owner move-in below).
  5. Landlord plans to perform capital improvements which require the tenant to temporarily vacate the unit (see below).
  6. The unit is being used for illegal purposes.
  7. 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.)
  8. Tenant refuses the landlord access to the rental unit, as required by state or local law.
  9. Landlord seeks to sell the unit in accordance with the condominium conversion rules under the SF Subdivision Ordinance.
  10. Unapproved subtenant is the only remaining tenant.
  11. Landlord plans to take the building off the market for 10 years.
  12. LL seeks to substantially rehabilitate or completely rebuild the unit.
  13. Landlord plans to demolish or remove permanently the unit from the rental market. (This is often used for illegal units.)
  14. Landlord needs to temporarily evict the tenant in order to get rid of lead paint.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.

Related: Rental Properties: The Case For Buying More

Fight For Your Rights As A Landlord

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 if you let an unlawful tenant keep taking advantage of you!

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Shop around for a mortgage

Check out the latest mortgage rates online through Credible. 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.

Latest mortgage rates

34 thoughts on “Booting Out Unlawful Tenants: Be A Man And Have Her Stay With You!”

  1. Ah ,hah! More evidence that it’s not the guys fault for always staying over. OK, thanks for the perspective.

    BTW, to answer your Twitter questions, auto-populate is what happens when name, email, and URL gets populated in the comments section. Makes things easier for folks to comment. Not sure about your other question on a commenting system. Thx

  2. I donno man. I’ve never known a man to always be at a woman’s place, even if it was a beautiful pad. My place is at the absolute bottom end of the spectrum! Maybe he lives at home with his parents still.

  3. This is a good, thought provoking article.

    I tend to agree with Kevin’s comment. If she were my tenant and paid on time & took good care of the place, I would encourage her to stay.

    I have had much worse tenants than that. I prefer not to go through the process of replacing a tenant, unless I had a stronger reason to. In the long run, the longer good tenants stay put, the more money I make, and the easier my job is.

  4. I would pretty much always prefer to stay at my place. I keep it well stocked with breakfast food, juices, milk, coffee, hot chocolate, snacks, food to make for lunch or dinner if I haven’t had a chance to run to the store, etc. I have yet to date a guy who actually keeps a good amount of food at his place and most of the guys I’ve dated are terrible at stocking up when they run out of something if they do keep food at their house. Or they’ve had roommates and their roommates eat/drink whatever food I buy and put in their kitchen. So, I much prefer my place.

  5. well – I found this interesting because in Australia properties are not rented on the basis of numbers of tenants. Many people take a lease and then rent out the rooms to flatmates who are not listed on the lease. The leasee takes full responsibility for those people. In this scenario unless the tenant had clearly jam packed full the place with heaps of people – well – tough luck. And as some others have said – what’s the definition of “living there” for the guys. It is only by coincidence that you happen to see her with blokes. Do you know for sure if they are staying for days at a time? I am not sure if you have furnished the place – that rarely happens in Australia and the tenants are always responsible for the utilities – so if she uses heaps of electricity and water – she would pay. If this lady is consistent with her rent and a long term stayer, and reasonable wear and tear – you may be better off leaving her be. In Australia, it would be ignored.

  6. I don’t know if you can stop overnight guests. I think you could evict based on a guest staying in the unit for more than 2 weeks though. It is tough when it is only a studio to not have additional wear and tear. The apartment is small and there is no other room. You could do a 1031 exchange for a larger unit?

  7. Emily @ evolvingPF

    Are you sure that she isn’t staying with her dates/boyfriends some of the time? If they are 50% at her place and 50% at his place it’s all a wash for you, right?

    As for whose place to stay at more often, I don’t really see what gender has to do with it – but I’ve not been part of the hookup culture so maybe I don’t know all the factors to consider.

    1. That’s definitely something I’m hoping for, and thinking of regarding a 50/50 split to his place as well. It just doesn’t seem this is the case though for the past 6 months.

  8. In San Francisco a girl with a studio is a good catch. It’s 2012 and San Francisco, it’s normal for a woman to take a man home. I do agree there is a price for McLoving (haha well said). Talk to the tenant, I’m sure she is aware that you are assuming that she is not the only one living in the studio. As long as the over night stays do not persist for more than 5 days in a row and the studio is taken care of I don’t think she is in the wrong. And a price that sweet in San Francisco I don’t think she will decide to leave if you increase the rent for the overnight stays.

  9. You might have a hard time convincing a judge that her visitors are “living” there. She is the only full time occupant and she apparently doesn’t have a single full time boyfriend. If she had one guy staying there at least several nights each week, you might have a case. As it stands, she has guests, not roommates.

    Don’t worry about the apartnment becoming worn out. When she moves, or when any tenant moves, you would be expected to restore the apartment (e.g. paint it, carpet clean, clean the kitchen and bathroom areas etc.) That is true whether it was lived in by one person or an army. But, you do get to keep the deposit. Any excuse is expected. All renters know they never get their deposit back.

    1. True, which is why going to court is the absolute last thing landlords and tenants should do. The rental deposit is indeed a nice thing to have. I don’t think all renters expect never to get their deposit back. That would be nice if that was the case though!

    2. Wow, I’ve always expected (and gotten) my full deposit back (even with having pets — dog and cats) (and yes, the landlords always knew about the pets). Of course I always took care of the places & left them spotless when I moved out.

      Also, when we were dating, my husband nearly always stayed at my place — it was a lot nicer & more comfortable than his, lol.

  10. Sam, you are not wrong to feel as you do. If it is purely financial, you already know what to do. But I have noticed a pattern in some posts, and wonder if this is a microproblem in what is a macroproblem that impacts all of us…

    Your real estate agent doesn’t sound like he is really supporting you by recommending you to his team, and isn’t as performing as agreed. Your neighbor lives rent-free in his 30s, with a mom-and-dad-subsidized lifestyle. And now your tenant is b@nging like a broken screen door, pretty flagrantly in your face, and her lifestyle is essentially turning a one-person occupancy into two.

    You are right to be bothered by all of these things. And it boils down to behavior of others. None of these people are meeting your expectations. It is a tough thing to address it with any of them, because it involves a potential confrontation and a breach in the relationship. They are all perfectly happy with the way things are going; but you are not.

    It takes a psychic toll on you to think about these things. btw, Dr. John Sarno’s book was a revelation for me in the ’90s, too. In my own experience, I have not had success in getting others to change their behavior. At some level, they know they are being less-than-professional, an irresponsible freeloader, and an inconsiderate opportunistic tenant. What I have done is remove myself from these relationships, as much as possible. Much easier said than done. Whatever happens, I hope you will come to peace with it and not let it fester unresolved.

    Because you have the freedom to say and do what you want, I applaud your sharing these things in your blog. I have often bit my lip, closed my eyes and thought of Mother England (so to speak). One thing I am curious about…all these people must know you have a blog. So they (or someone they know) must be aware of your thoughts. Have you ever gotten any feedback from the principals in your posts?

    1. Perhaps my expectations are too high for others given I have high expectations for myself. I wouldn’t live with mom and dad for 10 years after college and buy a $48,000 SUV, nor what I want a girl to live with me if I live in a shoebox. Once a week, maybe. All the time? No.

      I keep online and offline pretty much separate. It’s easier to write and talk about subjects this way.

      1. Sam, if things get bad enough, you may have to move.

        Um, wait, that doesn’t sound right…

        Seriously, the problem is not your expectations. You are right to expect people to come through, be responsible and live up to their agreements. I have had many similar experiences, with “friends” who only respond when they want something, clients who don’t pay without a hassle, neighbors who leave their trashcans out all week, etc. As someone who also finds my expectations unmet, I was just wondering if you or your readers had effective ways to deal with it. But perhaps that is a much larger issue for another time. Hope you work things out with this tenant, maybe she has a few cute friends she can trot by for you to sweeten your deal.:-)

    2. “b@nging like a broken screen door, pretty flagrantly in your face”

      Really?? She’s having sex right in front of him, in violation of their monogamous relati– oh, right, they’re not in a relationship and she never agreed not to have sex with other people. She’s a single woman of 28, of course she’s having sex. Is she supposed to live like a nun?

      This reaction smells disturbingly of slut-shaming (or envy and resentment). If the utility bill is higher, charge her more for that. If someone has clearly moved in, then talk to her about double occupancy. As for wear and tear, that’s what the security deposit is for. But if you’re just upset because she’s dating a lot… get some therapy.

  11. When I was dating, I stayed at my bfs place probably 80-90% of the time. We both had roommates and his was gone more often than mine. I have no idea what the dating scene is like nowadays so maybe more guys are staying over at their ladies places now. It could be for a ton of different reasons as you listed.

    I’d suggest keeping an eye on the utilities and charging for double occupancy if she isn’t billed directly for her actual usage. And you can raise the rent too as you suggested. Liability reasons are so true so hopefully she at least has renters insurance. I’m sure this happens all the time with rental properties. Perhaps most owners are just in the dark.

    1. I plan on raising the rent this spring by up to 10%. Rental prices are up 15% year over year anyway. I just feel bad I guess, but she’s giving me reason to feel less bad, which is actually nice!

  12. What is the definition of living somewhere? I don’t think spending a nite constitues living somewhere. If I spend a night or two at a friends house I don’t think anyone would define that as living there. If its a different guy every time then wouldn’t they be considered guests and shouldn’t a tenant should be entitled to have as many guests as they like as long as it does not disturb the other tenants and violate any laws? Curious what your thoughts are Sam…

    1. I don’t think there is a hardfast rule as that would impinge on people’s civil liberties. If a person who is not on the lease is staying more than one week a month, more than three months, I think there’s something to be said.

  13. Jay @ effumoney

    You said it has been multiple guys over a 6 month period, how frequently is she going through guys, if it is very frequently perhaps too frequently she might be running some form of unlawful extracuricular activity or business out of yout studio… If thats the case you have 2 choices, replace the tenent or demand a cut of the revenue… :P

    Just saying…

  14. I don’t know. It sounds like maybe you are a little envious of all of the action that is going on over there. Maybe?!?!?

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Unless they are doing it all over the place, your place probably isnt getting too much additional wear and tear.

    Have a great day, Sam!

      1. Hey, I think you should go over and hit that… know, see what all the hype is about. Maybe you could even change the furnace filter or something while you’re over there.

  15. Money Beagle

    If she pays on time and keeps the place in good repair, I wouldn’t worry about it. Chances are these guys aren’t taking too many meals there, from the sounds of it.

  16. Can’t get over the “shoebox with a view for $1100 is a steal” part! He probably lives in a dump with five other guys. I have had a tenant swearing she was single at the interview, and have a guy stay over 5 nights a week. There were flatmates with others, so it caused me problems as the guy wouldn’t do house chores, plus I charge an all bills included rate and double occupancy was more expensive. I asked for double occ rate and she said her bf would not visit so much, which was a lie. I managed to get her out after a month, in total she stayed for three. It is hard because I am one continent away and I hate for other tenants to be unhappy. In your case, I wouldn’t mind too much the double use of appliances, if the (same) guy stays for over a month, I’d just ask for a double occupancy rate.

  17. I’ve seen similar things. My dad used to own rental property and we got to see some interesting people. It’s one thing to have a good person that pays on time, but it’s another to have extra people there/questionable individuals. I think you’ve outlined the best steps for dealing with a potentially difficult situation.

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