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 Oakland 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 Oakland 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 Oakland 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.

The Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance Protects Oakland Tenants From Landlords Saying No To Overnight Guests

Oakland tenants protected by the Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance may have recourse against a landlord that prohibits overnight guests.  The Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance prohibits landlords from interfering with Oakland tenants’ right to privacy.  Oakland Municipal Code § 8.22.640(A)(13).  Specifically, the Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance finds unreasonable restrictions on or inquiry into an Oakland tenant’s overnight guests constitutes unlawful landlord harassment.  While no published court opinion has considered this matter, this provision of the Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance likely bars landlords from prohibiting overnight guests outright.

Oakland tenants lacking protection from the Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance may not fare so well.  As explained above, they may always cross out written lease provisions limiting overnight guests, or negotiate more favorable terms regarding overnight guests with the prospective landlord. However, once an Oakland tenant signs the lease, they likely must follow any limitations limiting overnight guests.

Where an Oakland tenant’s initial lease lacks any restrictions regarding overnight guests, the landlord may not subsequently unilaterally impose any such restrictions on the Oakland tenant. Under the Oakland Rent Ordinance’s good cause for eviction provisions, Oakland 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.

Finally, Oakland tenants without a written lease are likely unburdened with any limitations regarding their right to overnight guests.

To discuss overnight guests in Oakland, the Oakland Tenant Protection Ordinance, the Oakland Rent Ordinance, or California Rent Control (AB 1482), contact Astanehe Law, including by phone or email to speak with a tenant attorney.