Discrimination in Single Room Occupancies (SRO's)


Hotel and motel guests, residential hotel guests, single lodgers, and residents of transitional housing may have some legal rights when living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO’s) situations.1 SRO’s are multiple-tenant residences that house people in single rooms, with tenants sharing bathrooms and kitchens. In California, SRO’s are governed by state law and the same regulations apply to these residences as they do to standard tenancies. Written notice by either party is required to terminate occupancy.2 However, the law does give law enforcement agencies the authority to arrest hold-over lodgers after proper notice of termination of occupancy has been given.3

A common occurrence with SRO’s is when landlords tell tenants to move just before they complete thirty days as residents. This critical time marker represents the threshold between “visitors” and “tenants,” and more strict regulations attach to landlords after the occupants become tenants. A landlord may be subject to civil penalties for requiring an individual living in an SRO to move before this thirty-day deadline simply to avoid the attachment of additional tenant rights.4

Visitors to SRO's

In San Francisco, guests and occupants of SRO housing are allowed a maximum of two daytime visitors at a time per room, with no limit as to how many guests they have each month. Daytime visitors are allowed only from 9 am to 9 pm. Guests and occupants are allowed a maximum of eight overnight guests each month, and are limited to 1 guest per room per night. Both daytime and overnight guests must show some form of identification. While the law does not explicitly address what happens if the visitors’ identity does not match his or her identification, it is clear California law does prohibit discrimination in housing and public accommodations based on gender identity. In San Francisco, any time a tenant’s visitor is excluded from the SRO, written notice must be delivered to the tenant after the fact with the visitor’s name and the reason for the exclusion.5

  1. See Who is a ‘Landlord’ And Who is a ‘Tenant,’ California Department of Consumer Affairs, Last visited August 1, 2012; see also Cal. Civ. Code, § 1940(b), 1940.1. 

  2. Cal. Civ. Code, § 1946.5. 

  3. Cal. Pen. Code, § 602.3. 

  4. Cal. Civ. Code, § 1940.1. 

  5. Uniform Hotel Visitor Policy, City and County of San Francisco Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board, Amended Mar. 30, 2010, Last visited August 1, 2012.