L-, Other/Just Looking in San Francisco, CA

I pay rent to a master tenant, he says he can come into my unit, because it is a single family and my area is

Asked by L-, San Francisco, CA Sat Nov 1, 2008

common space even though i have a seperate front door, seperate bath, kitchen.

Help the community by answering this question:


Why were you given a 3-day notice? There are very limited reasons to give a 3-day notice, such as non-payment of rent or selling drugs. Assuming that you weren't doing anything illegal, this is harassment. Why were the others given 30-day notices? Unless this is agreed to in writing as part of the lease beforehand (I went through this myself a few years ago), that action is also wrong.

Have you talked to the other tenants? Maybe you should all get together and talk to an attorney. Intimidation and retaliation are wrong. It will cost, but I would an attorney. You might even be able to get him out!

I would also contact the property owner and let him or her know what is going on. I think that they aren’t supposed to allow this to go on and could ultimately be liable or could help you get rid of the bad guy. If the master tenant got sued for punitive damages, the landlord would be glad to be rid of the problem so that he wouldn’t be losing out on rent money that might rightfully be hers/his.

It sounds as if things are getting worse. GET AN ATTORNEY!

Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 7, 2008
my unit is seperate from the master tenant, he is upstairs, there is a door dividing the 2 units, each with it's own seperate entrance, kitchen, bath. But now we are going thru legal process again. He just came into my unit unannounced as usual and gave me a 3 day. This is the second one in 2 wks. .....he likes to try and scare and intimidate us, he gave my roommate, who has their own lease, a 30 day. They have done nothing wrong.
I have found out that this unit has been legalized as a seperate unit, in this single family.......all i can do now is go to EDC so i can file an answer.....thanks everyone for all your help. Jim i may be contacting you for the list of my rights as a sub-tenant.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 6, 2008
Is your iunit totally seperate from the master tenant? If not, he may be correct. Most situations call for 24 hours notice...but there are exceptions.
Web Reference: http://www.cindihagley.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 6, 2008
Cindi Hagley,…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
First, property ownership information is a matter of public record, generally speaking. Any Realtor can help you find at least some information about the owner in just a few minutes, or you can do your own research at the City.

Secondly, if you feel that you are paying a disproportionate amount of rent, you also have recourse. See this article on the Rent Board Web site:

According to the article, you may have the right to know the total rent, and you can file a petition with the Rent Board.

It seems to me that you are not at the end of the road. In an attempt to keep things neighborly, I'd share what you've learned with your master tenant, and let him know that you're serious about resolving what's going on. Give him the opportunity to make things right before brining in a lawyer. But if you do need some legal referrals, I recently put together a list for another friend with master/sub-tenant issues, so feel free to contact me.

Again, good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.jimrudoff.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 3, 2008
Thanks to everyone who has answered and given me info-----i did go to the the tenants union, not too much of a help. The master tenant will not show me his lease or give me the owners #, so he is probably charging me more money. I have to look into the sq. footage with rent board. I have found that this unit has been leaglized as a seperate unit----so even though it is single family-----he is not allowed into my unit. I may have to move for privacy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 2, 2008
Is this in a San Francisco rent-controlled property? Is your sub-lease legal? As in does the landlord know about it?

If the so-called master tenant doesn’t legally have the right to sub-lease, he could be in trouble with the property owner and you may have no rights.

Or you could be co-tenants, and as such, you are sharing the entire home. Usually one has rights to a certain area but if it isn't clearly defined and spelled out, and/or if you knew about this before--that he had to access "your" area to do his laundry, you may or may not have a lot of recourse.

Unless you are saving a lot of money with this arrangement, you should get out if you value your privacy and don’t like living in a commune.

Bottom line, talk to an attorney. Then, knowing your rights—if any—approach your roommate in an amicable manner and try to work things out. Maybe he does laundry only on Saturdays at noon? Or goes to a Laundromat? Or he pays you for access? Or lowers your rent? Or you move…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 2, 2008
The best place to start is the San Francisco Rent Board web site -- and be prepared to do a lot of reading. Whether or not your unit is subject to rent control, many aspects of the rent law still apply. My take on the situation (and this is not legal advice) is that if you have a completely separate unit -- that is to say that you are renting an entirely self-contained apartment that is clearly defined without "grey" areas -- that your master tenant would be subject to the 24-hour notice and its exceptions as described here:

The rent board offers drop-in and phone counseling, and I'd suggest that as a great place to get more detailed information.

And if all of that fails, there's always the Tenants Union. I only consider them as a last resort, as my experience with them -- and this was as a tenant -- is that they are far more interested in protecting tenants' rights than they were in me as a human, or my landlord as a human. Their "solutions" are almost always overly antagonistic, even rabid. Remember that you do want to continue living with this guy, you just want your privacy.

Good luck!


P.S. To those giving advice from outside of SF: San Francisco is a unique city with many laws that are primarily pro-tenant. Please do not attempt to give advice unless you are intimately familiar with our rent law, as it could actually open up the recipient to liability and litigation.
Web Reference: http://www.jimrudoff.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 2, 2008
Thanks all for answering----I do have a sublease for a month to month, in it states he does have to give me 24hrs notice unless it is an emergency. He comes in to do his laundry. I don't know how to get more documentation to tell him that he cannot come in.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008

What does your rental agreement say? Most rental agreements/leases allow the landlord to inspect the property with a 24 hour notice. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in San Ramon, CA
If you are renting an apartment or just a room, you have the rights to it. You should go to the state of California web site and type in landlord tenant law to get the exact rule for your state. Normally he would have to give you reasonable notice as it is stated which is normally noted as a 24 hour notice unless there is an emergence. You may want to consider finding a new place if he is going to violate your space and your rights.
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
Dear L,

I cannot believe he has the right to come into your unit. Do you have a written lease or some sort of lease agreement? If you do, does it give the master tenant the right to enter without 24 hours notice?

Please go to http://www.sfgov.org and check out the information for renters and rent laws in San Francisco. They also have an email link and a telephone number.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 1, 2008
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