This post originally appeared on Burt M. Polson's Real Estate Journal and is republished with permission. Find out how to syndicate your content with theBrokerList.

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 one of my article we discussed the different types of occupants and how they are granted use of your property–be sure to review part one for definitions of terms. In part two 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 will require to be evicted by the landlord to remove those rights if the tenant defaults. The landlord must also provide 24 hours 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 & security, food service, telephone and housekeeping.  Unlike that of a landlord-tenant relationship who is renting a house where the landlord’s extent of care is to maintain the health & 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 vacant 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 now in effect as of the day you read this. Be prepared and know the laws. Part three of my article will cover insurance issues, anti-discrimination laws, taxes and local government ordinances.

Be sure to download the California Tenants A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities Revised July 2012 <> for more answers.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a real estate broker with ACRES Real Estate Services Inc. Reach him at 707-254-8000, [email protected]. Sign up for his email newsletter at

Image: National Library of Ireland on The Commons, The Lawrence Photograph CollectionNo known copyright restrictions

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