Renting out a room is not as simple as taking some photos and posting on Airbnb, VRBO or Craigslist.

Not only are there governmental ordinances you must comply with in your area, but you should know how the law views each type of occupancy.

In Part 1 of my column, which ran Nov. 24, we discussed the different types of occupants and how they are granted use of your property — be sure to review Part 1 for definitions of terms.

In Part 2 we examine property rights, level of care, control of property and required postings.

What kind of property rights exist?

A tenant has full rights to the property being rented under the lease, and it will require eviction by the landlord to remove those rights if the tenant defaults. The landlord must also provide 24-hour written notice to the tenant prior to entering the property.

A hotel guest is there by license, therefore the innkeeper can enter the room at any reasonable time. A homeowner renting a room to a lodger can also enter a room at any time when occupied.

What is the level of care for your occupant?

An innkeeper has a higher level of service to provide for a guest in the form of safety and security, food service, telephone and housekeeping. It is unlike that of a landlord-tenant relationship in which a tenant is renting a house, and the landlord’s extent of care is to maintain the health and safety standards. There are certain expectations for a lodger, but the level of services are questionable.

Who controls the property?

An innkeeper maintains constant control of the property, rooms and common areas and could even relocate guests into other rooms. Innkeepers maintain the right to ask you to leave if you are causing problems, can lock you out and if force is needed call security or the police.

A landlord has the right to use a three-day notice and unlawful detainer to gain possession of the house. If a lodger in your home is refusing to leave or is causing damage, a homeowner, when there is a single lodger, would need to provide written notice to the lodger to vacate within the same amount of time as between rental payments.

If there are multiple lodgers in the same home, then different laws apply. After the notice period expires the lodger would be considered a trespasser.

Are there any required postings in the room?

An innkeeper must post room rates and other compliance requirements and disclaimers. A landlord has no such requirements. Be sure to learn what postings may be required in your area for renting a room.

The city of Napa Vacation Rental Ordinance is in effect as of the day you read this. Be prepared and know the laws.

Part 3 of my column will cover insurance issues, anti-discrimination laws, taxes and local government ordinances.

Be sure to download “California Tenants: A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities” at for more answers.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a real estate broker with ACRES Real Estate Services Inc. helping clients sell, buy and lease real estate. Reach him at 707-254-8000, or


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