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Can I evict the sub-tenants?

Los Angeles, CA |

I rent a house to a main-tenant with one year lease and then she sublease (one year) to THREE sub-tenants WITH my permission. Two sub-tenants are very messy, dirty and noisy but pay rent on time. The main lease and the sub-lease still not expire (about 6 more months). Can I evict these two sub-tenants or I have to let the main-tenant evict them? (The main-tenant hesitate to evict the two bad sub-tenants because they pay rent on time).

If I have to evict the main-tenant. Will all the sub-tenants be included in the eviction too? Is the eviction more complicated and costly than usual (just rent to one family)?

Should I have a lawyer draw a sub-lease agreement next time?

Thanks in advance.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    If there is a written sublease agreement between the main tenant and the subtenants, and depending upon whether the sublease agreement requires the subtenants to maintain a certain level of cleansiness and noise, the main tenant could serve a 3-day notice to perform covenant or quit, and evict on the basis of such 3-day notice. However, it sounds like the main tenant is not willing to take any action.

    Therefore, as the landlord, you can serve your main tenant with a 3-day notice to perform or quit, assuming your lease agreement has provisions regarding keeping the premises clean and being quiet. If the main tenant does not get his/her subtenants to comply, you would then file an unlawful detainer action against the main tenant and all other occupants.

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


  2. Having the right kind of lawyer draw it up can prevent you experiencing unintended consequences down-stream and you'd be better served y doing it that way, but its not required.

    Attorney Chen and Zarabi (both in LA area) are both known experts in the landlord tenant field.

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, addressing your issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.


  3. I would look to Attorney Chen's advice as a CA attorney practicing in this area for the particulars of how to enforce your rights.

    The general concepts that you are triggering deal with privity of contract and priority of interests. You do not have a contract directly with the subtenants, so you cannot enforce the terms of your contract against them. You can enforce the contract that you have with the main tenant. The main tenant then has to decide whether to enforce its agreements with the subtenants or face eviction.

    The priority of interests comes in since the subtenants' rights to possess the property cannot be any greater than the rights of the main tenant. If you evict the main tenant, all the subtenants lose their rights of possession too (but you want to make sure you go through the appropriate processes as noted by Attorney Chen).

    I also agree that a good attorney writing an appropriate lease addressing subleasing rights can help you deal with this issue better in the future.

    Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed in Arizona and can only provide general comments on matters outside of Arizona law. Actual legal advice can only be provided after a direct consultation in which all of the relevant facts are considered before providing a response.

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