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Public Rights Division

Hotels and Tenants

When does a hotel guest become a legal “tenant”?
In general, hotel guests gain the legal status of tenants after occupying a hotel room for 30 days.

Are there any exceptions to the 30-day rule?
There are two major exceptions to the rule. In each of these scenarios, the hotel guest does not become a legal tenant after 30 days:
   (a) if the tenant isn’t fully paid up on all room charges as of day 30; or
(b) if the hotel meets all five of these criteria:
        (1)  The hotel keeps a right of access and control of the room; and
        (2)  The hotel has facilities to safeguard personal property; and
        (3)  The hotel provides central telephone service; and
        (4)  The hotel provides maid, mail, and room services; and
        (5)  Food service is in or adjacent to the premises of the hotel.

What legal rights does a “tenant” get that a hotel guest doesn’t have?
Under state and local law, tenants have a number of special legal rights. The most significant is the requirement that the property owner go through the court process before evicting the tenant. This process includes serving a notice to quit and then filing an “unlawful detainer” lawsuit in court. Self-help evictions of tenants are prohibited.

Is it illegal for a hotel to move guests out and back in before the 30-day mark, to avoid them becoming tenants?
It is illegal if the hotel is a “residential hotel.” This means that the property has six or more units and is the primary residence of its occupants.

How can hotels use self-help to eject guests who won’t leave voluntarily?
The only way that it’s legal for a hotel to do self-help evictions of guests (changing the room key, removing the guest’s property, and moving in a new guest) is if all of the following conditions are met:
            (a) It’s not a “residential hotel”; and
            (b) The guest does not qualify as a “tenant” as defined above; and
            (c) The guest signed a notice when they moved in saying that this kind of self-help eviction could happen; and
            (d) An actual guest is scheduled to move into that particular room.

How can I get more information?
Call the City Attorney’s Office (310-458-8336).

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