Be it a significant other, a friend too drunk to drive, or a family member visiting from out-of-town, allowing an overnight guest to spend the night is a valuable privilege many San Francisco tenants do not value until renting from a landlord that says no to overnight guests. But, can a landlord say no to overnight guests?  What rights do San Francisco tenants have to have overnight guests stay in their homes? This article explores guests staying overnight in rental units and provides information on whether a San Francisco Tenant’s landlord can say no to overnight guests.

California Law Does Not Protect Tenants From Landlords From Saying No To Overnight Guests

As an initial matter, no California law currently protects California tenants from landlords that wish to prohibit overnight guests. Landlords can, and often do, insert provisions into lease agreements limiting the number of overnight guests a tenant may have and provisions limiting the number of nights an overnight guest may stay in the unit. Many landlords elect to use the California Apartment Association’s standard lease provision, prohibiting guests from staying in the unit for fourteen consecutive days or a year.

GUEST(S): Any person who is not listed as an Occupant on this Agreement is a Guest. A Guest may not stay on the premises for more than fourteen consecutive days, or a total of fourteen days in a 12 month period. At the discretion of Owner/Agent, Guest(s) who overstay this limit may be required to go through the application process, and if approved, must sign a Rental/Lease Agreement. Resident is responsible for any violation of this Rental/Lease Agreement by Resident’s Guests.

Once the California tenant signs an agreement containing this or a similar provision, they become bound by overnight guest limitation. The California tenant’s ability to have overnight guests becomes limited by the lease provision to which they agreed.

However, California tenants are not powerless. Rather than agree to a lease provision restricting a prospective tenant’s ability to have guests stay at the property, the prospective tenant may negotiate less stringent lease terms with the landlord. For example, the prospective tenant can propose a thirty-day cap instead of a fourteen-day cap. Additionally, the California tenant can always cross out the provision entirely. If the landlord does not object and still signs the lease agreement, the California tenant will not be subject to any rules limiting overnight guests with the strikethrough provision and all. Further, California tenants may be find respite in the State’s common law and the California Constitute, which guarantees all residents the right to privacy.

Please note that, unless California Rent Control protects the California tenant, the landlord may attempt to impose rules banning or prohibiting overnight guests on the tenant after the expiration of the original lease term.

San Francisco Law Does Not Explicitly Protect San Francisco Tenants From Landlords Saying No To Overnight Guests

Similarly, San Francisco law does not protect San Francisco tenants from landlords saying no overnight guests, so long as the original written lease contains an enforceable provision limiting overnight guests in some way. As explained above, San Francisco tenants may also cross out the provision, or negotiate more favorable terms regarding overnight guests with the prospective landlord. However, once a San Francisco tenant signs the lease, they likely must follow any limitations limiting overnight guests. While no published court opinion has considered the matter, it may be possible for a San Francisco tenant to argue an onerous restriction on overnight guests violates their right to privacy, and constitutes landlord harassment in violation of the San Francisco Tenant Harassment Ordinance.

Where a San Francisco tenant’s initial lease lacks any restrictions regarding overnight guests, the landlord may not subsequently unilaterally impose any such restrictions on the San Francisco tenant. San Francisco tenants are not required to sign new written leases after their initial lease term unless the lease is substantially similar to the previous lease. A written lease imposing new restrictions on overnight guests that did not previously exist in the prior lease is not substantially similar. Indeed, San Francisco tenants are protected from breach of lease evictions where the lease provision is materially different from the original lease and unilaterally imposed by the landlord without the tenant’s consent. Nearly all San Francisco tenants are protected by this part of the San Francisco Rent Ordinance.

San Francisco tenants without a written lease are likely unburdened with any limitations regarding their right to overnight guests.

San Francisco Tenants in SRO Hotels Have Special Rules Regarding Overnight Guests

San Franciscans residing in single room occupancy (“SRO”) hotels have special rights regarding guests. All San Francisco SRO tenants have the right to daytime guests between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.. Additionally, the hotel may cap the total number of simultaneous guests at two during the day. However, San Francisco law provides there is no limit on the total number of guests an SRO tenant may have per day, week, or month. Please note that children ten years old and under cannot be counted towards the guest limitation, but the SRO hotel may cap the total number of children per room at two.

Concerning overnight guests, the SRO hotel may limit overnight guests in the following way: A SRO tenant that has resided in their unit for at least thirty-two continuous days becomes entitled to have overnight guests. However, the SRO hotel may cap the total number of guests to one per night and eight per month. For example, for tenancies with two persons per room, each SRO tenant is permitted to have eight overnight guests per month, but only one overnight guest each month. The SRO hotel may cap the overnight guest to eight consecutive days per calendar month. Finally, the landlord may require that the SRO tenant request permission for the overnight guest before 7:00 p.m. on the same day the guest stays overnight.