Topic No. 209: Evictions Based on Breach of No Subletting Clause and/or Breach of Occupancy Limits

The Rent Ordinance generally allows tenants to replace departing roommates and/or to increase the number of occupants living in the unit, including family members, even when prohibited by a written lease. However, tenants with written lease agreements must follow the procedures described in Rent Board Rule Sections 6.15A, 6.15B, 6.15D and 6.15E in order to obtain the landlord’s approval before moving a new occupant into the unit. The procedures include strict time limits that must be followed by tenants and landlords, which begin once the tenant makes a written request for the new occupant. If the landlord does not respond to the tenant’s request in writing within 14 days of receipt, with a description and specific facts supporting the reason for denying the request, the tenant’s request is deemed approved by law. Further, if the landlord unreasonably denies the tenant’s request for a new occupant without a permissible reason, the tenant may not be evicted for moving the new occupant into the unit.

See Rent Board Topic No. 151 for a description of the specific procedures and timelines that must be followed by tenants and landlords, including the limited reasons why a landlord may deny a tenant’s request. Note that the tenant protections and procedures described herein do not apply where the tenant intends to assign or sublet the entire unit to a new tenant or where the proposed new occupant will occupy the unit for less than 30 days as a tourist or for transient use as defined in the Short-Term Rental Ordinance.

If the tenant violates a written lease by moving a new occupant into the unit without first making a written request to the landlord, or where the landlord has denied the tenant’s request for a permissible reason, the landlord may serve the tenant with a written notice of the lease violation. The written notice must allow the tenant at least ten days to cure the lease violation before the landlord may proceed with an eviction. The tenant may cure the violation by making a written request to the landlord for the additional occupant or by removing the unapproved occupant from the unit. The tenant’s written request starts the 14-day timeline for the landlord’s response, as described above. If the tenant does not comply with the landlord’s notice, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings by filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court.


October 2019