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Are non-solicitation clauses in residential rental agreements in California, as opposed to employment agreements?

Los Angeles, CA |

I own a 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom condo. I live in one bedroom-bathroom, and rent out the other two. It worked out great for 4 years UNTIL I rented to a real estate agent.

Big mistake. He was always asking me, my other roommate and my neighbors in our building if they were interested in hiring him to list their unit. Annoying!!!

It got so frustrating that I asked him to stop; he refused. So I then gave him 30 days notice to vacate without explanation. (He was a month-to-month tenant.) In the future, I added a "non-solicitation" clause into my lease agreement.

I know that California generally considers non-compete clauses in employment agreements void. Mine isn't a non-compete clause; he's free to work in any industry during and after his tenancy. Is the new clause kosher under CA law?

Attorney Answers 3


The California law related to the unenforceability of non-compete clauses in employment agreements is based on a statute that provides as much and is totally unrelated to your situation.

Non-solicitation clauses in employment agreement are generally enforceable, but again, those legal issues and the purposes of those provisions are very significantly different than your situation.

As a landlord, you cannot limit your leased property to persons based on their membership in a protected class of people. Otherwise you are allowed to set reasonable limits on what kinds of tenants you want, especially when you are talking about leasing out a room within your own residence.

Because salesmen are not a protected class of people, you can legitimately create a rule of no soliciting of your other roommates for business.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

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Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

A "non-solicitation clause" commonly refers to a contractual provision that prevents soliciting away a business's employees. A "non-compete clause" commonly refers to a contractual provision that prevents the person who is selling a business from opening the same business nearby. I cannot see how either of these clauses belong in a residential lease. If your property is not subject to a rent control provision, you may evict a month-to-month tenant with a properly-served 30-Day Notice. A tenant asking neighbors if they want to hire him probably is not illegal. If this rises to the level of harrassment, or if this conduct is a breach of a lease provision prohibiting conduct of business from a residential unit, that is a different matter. Be sur to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.

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A non-solicitation clause, as pointed out by my colleague, means soliciting employees to leave their current employer to come work for you. You want a "don't bother us selling your Amway products, your professional services, promoting your religious beliefs" clause. There is none that I know of. You just need to pick your tenants accordingly.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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