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Single Lodger in a Private Residence

As California home prices and rental costs slowly continue to rise, many people often consider renting out a portion of their home in order to increase income and decrease financial stress. An increasingly common situation involves a homeowner renting out an unused bedroom or living space, while he or she still continues to live normally in the house. This type of landlord-tenant relationship is known as a, “single family lodger" landlord-tenant relationship. Below is a brief summary of the California rules and regulations governing the single-family lodger rental scenario.

California Civil Code Section § 1946.5

California Civil Code Section § 1946.5 is the primary body of law governing “lodger law” in California. Section § 1946.5 defines a lodger as, “a person contracting with the owner of a dwelling unit for a room or room and board within the dwelling unit personally occupied by the owner, where the owner retains a right of access to all areas of the dwelling unit occupied by the lodger and has overall control of the dwelling unit.” California Civil Code Section § 1946.5 only covers only the situation of a single lodger living within a house owned by an owner also living in the same house. Therefore, given the specificity of the law, several key differences exist with respect to the traditional landlord-tenant relationship.


By far the biggest and most prevalent difference between traditional landlord-tenant law and the law governing single family lodger situations is the ability for the homeowner to simply end the lodger’s ability to continue staying in the house by simply giving notice. The notice of termination has to be equal to the length of the rental payment period, regardless of the length of the tenancy. Notice can be given by any of the methods described in Code of Civil Procedure section § 1162.

For example, rent that is paid every 30 days, in turn, requires a simple 30-day notice. This is different from the rule applicable to any other month-to-month tenant, who is entitled to 60 days' notice after being a tenant for more than one year, regardless of the rental payment period.

Lodger Turned Trespasser

Another key difference between the law governing traditional landlord-tenant relationship and the law governing single family lodger situations is the exception to California’s unlawful detainer rule. Under California Civil Code Section § 1946.5, a single-family lodger who does not leave after a 30-day notice of termination expires becomes a trespasser, and in theory can be removed by the police without requiring the landlord to complete the unlawful detainer process.

It is important for both landlords and tenants to retain experienced and professional attorneys. Please call Aziz Legal by phone (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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