Question: I have a month-to-month rental agreement for an apartment. I like my rental unit, except I have a roommate who constantly has violent fights with her boyfriend. We called the police on him a couple of times and she put a restraining order on him as well. This morning, Sunday, at about 1:30 a.m., I saw him go through the window to her bedroom and left the same way at about 8:30 a.m. I don’t have any written agreement with my roommate and I am the only tenant on the rental agreement. I would like to give her a 3-day eviction notice, if that is legal. She is giving me a lot of stress, and I don’t have peace of mind since she became my roommate. Please advise.

Property manager Griswold replies:

Unfortunately, you do not have the same options as a landlord does when it comes to getting rid of a bad tenant. In your case you only have a verbal agreement with a problem roommate so you need to work with her to get her to move voluntarily. While you like your rental unit, since you are on a month-to-month tenancy, you could give your landlord your 30-day notice to vacate and just move out and find another place to live. Since your roommate is not on the rental agreement she would have a difficult time avoiding an eviction if she attempted to stay after you leave. You could also explain the situation to your landlord and actually request the landlord to serve you with a 30-day notice. The landlord may be willing to cooperate or they may tell you that it is your problem and insist that you fulfill the terms of your rental agreement or terminate the rental agreement on your own.

Question: Last year I was awarded a Section 8 voucher and given only three months to find a place or I would lose it. So I rushed to find an apartment hoping to save money as a single parent. Now my lease is up for renewal and my landlord is demanding a $20 increase in rent and the security deposit. Can he do this? How often can he raise it since I thought that I was on a low-income program?

Property manager Griswold replies:

Landlords can typically adjust the rental rate at the end of your lease term. I suggest that you contact your local housing authority that administrates your Section 8 program to make sure that your rental unit and rental rate still meet their guidelines. Landlords are not required to participate in the Section 8 program and there are no limitations that prohibit the landlord from adjusting the rent at the time of lease renewal as long as the rental rate does not exceed the maximum allowed rent for your rental unit. Also, in today’s rental market in most areas, a $20 monthly rent increase is not out of line as the market rent as increased so dramatically over the last few years that the new rental rate may very well still be below the maximum amount allowed by Section 8. Also, remember that you may not even be personally affected since the Section 8 program requires you to only personally pay up to 30 percent of your income as rent. Thus, the $20 rent increase is most likely going to be paid by the Section 8 program. Landlords, opting to participate in the Section 8 program, are prohibited from charging higher rental rates for rental units occupied by Section 8 tenants than they charge for comparable market rate rental units

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies,” and San Diego attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenant’s Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a firm representing landlords.

E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at

Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.


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