Multi-family home with deadbeat occupant

Inherited a multi-family home with an occupant (lives on top floor) who has never paid rent nor signed a lease. I’m in the process of navigating through the court system in San Francisco, which I must say is an experience in and of itself. Not to mention expensive.

I’d prefer to rent out the bottom unit of the building. My concern is that the two units are connected by an inner stairway with a door at the top of the stairs. I’m certain the occupant is running all over the place and want to confine his access. Any thoughts on potential issues with the City if I go ahead and rent the bottom floor? Anyone ever encounter such a scenario?

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That should be a simple court procedure. I don’t understand why it needs to be expensive or time-consuming.

Is it a single family house or duplex? You need to get this fact straight first

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It is a legal duplex

What are the rules for condo conversion these days? That would be the best option going forward.

Another option is to rent out the bottom unit on AirBnB. Since you are living upstairs can it rent it out short term year round?

I’d do everything possible to avoid having it under rent control again.

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I think I’m with wuqijun on this one. Doesn’t that mean he can’t be covered by tenant laws? You might have to prove that he never paid rent though.

MissionSF is right on that, not a simple process.

You might have to prove that he never paid rent though ==> Where is the contract? ==> nor signed a lease !

Court needs document…Breach of contract, not paying rent.

I did not have such experience, but I would suggest you contact some good real estate lawyer and get advice before you getting trouble.

BTW: How did you get the duplex with non-paying tenant?

I’ve got legal rep and don’t want issues thus my question about the open stairway. Just curious if anyone has had this issue before.
Owner died and the occupant was living there and now won’t leave. Crazy thing is she left him a separate house. He just wants a big pay day. Makes me sick.

He just wants a big pay day. ==> This is the issue. What if the occupant dispute/fight or create some issues with new tenant?

Makes me sick.==> I understand this. IMO, better to have legal opinion, work on it, resolve it.

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Wow. Anywhere but SF, I’d say the judge would side with you and get him out… .But who knows in SF?

SF is a tricky place. Legal rep is absolutely needed. If the tenant is smart and knowledgeable, you cannot avoid paying him to leave.

I’d imagine that your lawyer will draft a letter for the tenant to talk to you about the lease. The tenant cannot expect to stay there without paying any rent because it can become grounds for eviction. So if you pressure him most likely he’ll say he had an oral agreement with previous owner that he will pay some amount of rent for the rest of his life. Then your lawyer can start negotiating with him from there.

In SF (and Oakland, and other rent controlled cities), the landlord doesn’t own the property completely. The landlord co-owns the property with tenants, so if you want him out you need to pay him. Once you realize this, you won’t feel as bad when you hand over the check.

Interesting. Probably why rental yield is a notch higher than SV.

Plot thickens…


Yes, this is mandatory process to go through, may cost you, but you resolve it once for all.

Lock the door and rent the lower floor.
Send notice for inspection and get control of the property. Even in SF eviction is allowed if no rent is paid. Start eviction


Slow down. Before listening to anybody’s advise, hire an attorney specialized in evictions.

The tenant, whoever he or she is, may have acquired some legal rights. Except they may have a piece of paper or witnesses and they are waiting for you to move them out to tangle you in a lengthy and costly lawsuit.

Same as the case we had days ago of repairs not being paid by a seller when signed in contract, you may think about settling with the tenant before engaging in a costly litigation.

Again, hire an attorney. Or, on you own recognizance read/use these:

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Thanks for the reply. All good as I have counsel and will follow advice. Currently occupant had demurrers overruled and filed another last week. And he gets another month of freeloading. Hoping the judge tires of these methods

I appreciate everyone’s input as I’ve not been through this before.


What a waste of a judge’s time…

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In addition, cost of lawsuit, legal advice is huge and is a waste or reducing ROI :grin:

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