Oakland tenant not on lease or signed estoppel - can I kick out?

4 Replies

I purchased a rental income duplex in Oakland September 2017. In one of the units, the final tenant on the written lease is moving out. However, there is one other person, Sara, who has been living in the unit since March 2017 and paying rent, however she is not on the lease. When we purchased the property we requested an estoppel. The estoppel form was filled out by the tenant and Sara, however neither the previous owner or myself signed the form, which makes me think its not legally binding. 

I'd like to remodel the unit, start with a new set of tenants, and raise the rent given that Sara's plan is to find two new roommates which would just delay my plans. My property manager says Sara may attempt to stay and it could become a bigger issue. They could try to make the case that they are tenants one way or another and given this is under Oakland measure EE, this could turn into a pricey time consuming process and result in an eviction.

I'm looking for advice on if anyone else has dealt with a similar experience. Please help! 

She’s a tenant if she’s been there for longer than 30 days. Have you collected rent from her directly?  Does she have mail going to her?

Does the estoppel have any clauses that state no sublets or that you can raise rents after original tenants have moved out?

You might be stuck if she can prove she’s been there over 30 days or if she has a direct relationship with you.  By stuck, it means you may not be able to evict. 

Also, get this taken care of quickly. Oakland is looking to repeal Contra Hawkins which means rent for vacant units may become regulated. No more market rents if this gets repealed. 

She is a tenant, your best option is to block her from bringing in room mates and begin the eviction process asap. Assuming tenants require landlord approval if you can block new tenants you may be able to starve her out. Once she can no longer pay rent she will be easier to evict. If she brings in illegal tenants you will also have the advantage in evicting.

Start by learning your state landlord tenant codes. You can not operate a business without knowing the regulations that govern you.

Not sure you'll be able to 'starve' her out.  Based on the previous living situation, a tenant is entitled a 1-to-1 replacement of roommates.

Talk to a lawyer, they may have other strategies.  Worse case scenario, move into the building (that unit or an empty) and decontrol the Rent Control and EE doesn't apply to properties with 3 or less units.

Thanks for the advice @Calvin Kwan and @Thomas S. I am using a property manager so not sure if that counts as collecting rent from her directly? Not sure if she has mail going to her or not. The estoppel doesn't have any clauses that state no sublets but the original lease does . 

@Thomas S. Agreed on your advice to learn the codes, let me know if you have any suggestions. 

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