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My Landlord’s Threatening To Evict Me Because My Boyfriend Moved In To Take Care of Me

Dave’s at SF Appeal to answer your landlord-tenant questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com, here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

rental-agreementI saw your post on subletting and assignment. My lease has a blanket prohibition in it but I feel my situation is different than other people’s.

Recently my boyfriend moved in. I asked him after several months of coping with a debilitating injury. I asked the landlord several times to fix the intercom which she never did and I was unable to get groceries or answer my door. I live on the fourth floor of a walk-up. I told her he was coming in writing and why. She responded by saying i had to keep her informed of my condition. I have kept her up to date on a regular basis but it is a tendon injury and can take 6 months to initially recover and even longer before I can lift heavy things. She also prohibited me from giving the door code to anyone and basically made me a prisoner. No laundry service. No ability to live.

My boyfriend and I were broken up. But after one long night of crying and feeling like my stomach was going to implode from hunger, I begged for him to come stay here and help me out. Now, since she spies on everyone in the building, she is threatening to evict me because he is here. Even though being here has allowed me to rest and recover. And I am slowly getting better. I am not better yet and am lucky that I have a job that does not require any walking or standing, and which pays enough to pay the 3500/mo I pay for this 2 bedroom apartment. Trust me he would not have been invited if I didn’t absolutely need a caretaker. I have mounds of doctor bills to prove my injury and she won’t budge. Is there nothing I can do?

To paraphrase David Mamet, the landlord business is a people business. It’s a fucking people business. I’m sure your landlord understands this, but $42,000.00 in annual rent just isn’t the market rate any more. Your landlord must be suffering from compassion fatigue.

Does your boyfriend pay you any rent? If he does not, he cannot be characterized as a subtenant. Does he maintain his own residence despite staying with you much of the time? If he does, you should give the landlord a copy of his lease to show that he is not a subtenant.

If your boyfriend pays your a portion of the rent and he does not live elsewhere he is a subtenant subject to San Francisco Rent Board Rules & Regulations §6.15A. This section is applicable to absolute prohibitions on subletting.

Take a look at your lease and see if it includes these items as stated in Rules & Regulations §6.15A (a)(1-2):

(1) The prohibition against sublet or assignment is set forth in enlarged or boldface type in the lease or rental agreement and is separately initialed by the tenant; or

(2) The landlord has provided the tenant with a written explanation of the meaning of the absolute prohibition, either as part of the written lease or rental agreement, or in a separate writing.

Then take a look at your original letter to the landlord. Did you ask her to add your BF to the tenancy. If you did and she didn’t respond in the negative, the landlord may have waived her right to refuse the subtenancy by not responding in 14 days.

I also noticed that you live in a two-bedroom apartment. If you had a roommate in the past, to add your BF to the tenancy you can simply go through the rest of the steps as outlined in Rules & Regulations §6.15A. The rules allow a one-for-one replacement despite an absolute prohibition on subletting.

Intercom systems are integral to multistory buildings. You should call a housing inspector from the DBI to inspect the intercom and any other potential violations in your unit or the building. Then file a petition for substantial decreases in services at the Rent Board.

I also did a little research to determine if you could request a reasonable accommodation to allow your BF to stay with you pursuant to the Americans with Disability Act. While this is not my area of expertise, I found this from the Disability Rights California website:

The length of time that an impairment affects major life activities may help to determine whether the impairment substantially limits those activities.

Even so, the law expressly states with respect to those “regarded as having such an impairment” that protection under the ADA shall not be given to “impairments that are transitory and minor.”  “A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.”

Readers: The next time some free-market wanker starts moaning about market rate rents, give them this example. This is the market jackwad–$42,000 per year for a fourth-floor walkup with no doorbell and a three-headed bitch (Cerberus was a hound) guarding the gates of ones own personal Hades.

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

I do not provide legal advice in the comments section. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have a legal question.

One Response to My Landlord’s Threatening To Evict Me Because My Boyfriend Moved In To Take Care of Me

  1. As a landlord I can tell you that if he is paying rent I would be concerned that with the unstable relationship you mentioned, your injury, and the fact that he is on on the lease, that if the two of you should fight I could end up with a tenant unable to pay rent.

    That being said, there must be some arrangement that can be meet and the income system should have been fixed.

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