California Law on Room & Board and Landlord's Rights

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In California, when an owner rents property to a resident, this typically creates a landlord-tenant relationship. The landlord agrees to accept rent and in exchange gives the tenant exclusive use and possession of the property. A private residence, a care facility or an employer might offer room and board. In some cases, a tenant who receives room and board is considered a lodger as opposed to a tenant. In California, lodgers maintain rights similar to tenants. However, landlord and tenant laws typically only apply to individuals who meet the legal definition of a landlord or a tenant.

Room-and-Board Residents

In California, many types of facilities offer room and board, including hotels, universities, residential care facilities and privately owned residences. Room-and-board facilities typically provide residents with a room, a bed and prepared meals for a set price. California state housing laws establish regulations for hotels, apartment houses and other facilities that provide room and board. These rules and regulations require that beds be kept in clean and sanitary condition, hotplates meet health and safety codes and onsite caretakers manage larger facilities with 12 or more guests rooms, or 16 or more apartment houses.

Room-and-Board Contracts

A landlord and tenant can enter into an oral or written contract for room and board. In some cases, the landlord may be an employer and room and board may be part of the employment contract, with room-and-board charges deducted from the employee's paycheck. Maximum employee meal and room costs are established under California Employment Law. Otherwise, standard room-and-board rental agreements typically include the amount of rent to be paid, meals included in the rent and terms of occupancy. The rental agreement can be an oral agreement, periodic rental agreement or lease. An oral agreement may be legally binding for short terms of less than one year. A written periodic rental agreement may include a week-to-week or month-to-month contract for room and board.

Room Repairs and Responsibilities

Landlords and tenants each have different responsibilities to make repairs and keep the room habitable, including the bed clean. In California, all leases and rental agreements must include an implied warranty of habitability, which means the landlord must make repairs to keep the room livable. A landlord must ensure that the room-and-board tenant has access to a working toilet, running water, trash disposal, natural light and proper ventilation for each room. The landlord also has an obligation to provide adequate electrical wiring, heating and cooling.

Termination Notices

In California, the basic principles of landlord-tenant law apply to room-and-board facilities. Each landlord must adhere to applicable housing laws, based on the type of room and board offered. A landlord can typically terminate a resident’s tenancy based on the terms of a rental agreement, which may allow for a 30-day or 60-day advance written notice. In other cases, a landlord may only be required to give three days advance written notice based on the tenant’s actions or inactions such as a failure to pay the rent. The landlord may also issue a three-day notice immediately to a tenant who uses his room for illegal activities. If the tenant refuses to leave the premises after the three days expire, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action with the California Superior Court to evict the tenant.

Read More: Termination of Tenancy in California: Types of Eviction Notices

Curable and Incurable Violations

Once a room-and-board tenant is served with a termination notice, the landlord must offer the tenant an opportunity to cure some types of violations but not all violations. For example, if the tenant has not paid rent, the landlord typically must give the tenant an opportunity to pay the rent before the three days expire. The three-day notice must include the amount of rent that is due and where to pay the rent. In other situations, a landlord must list the violation and allow a tenant to correct the violation only if feasible. Some violations may not be cured, such as ongoing illegal activities including drug abuse, abusive behavior or threats of violence.

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