Legal Hotline SpotlightQ:  I have a tenant who is a college student whose father co-signed the lease as a guarantor. The tenant has stopped paying rent. I spoke with the guarantor, who has paid all rent owed, and they want me to proceed with an unlawful detainer against the tenant and change the locks. Can I proceed with an unlawful detainer at the guarantor’s request when the tenant has stopped paying rent?

A:  No, a landlord cannot proceed with an unlawful detainer for nonpayment of rent if the rent is in fact being paid, nor can a landlord of a residential tenant perform a constructive eviction by changing the locks under any circumstances. A guarantor does not have the authority to request the commencement of unlawful detainer proceedings. Moreover, the guarantor is a party to the lease agreement and is personally liable for any unpaid rent. Having a parent-guarantor is common when renting to college-age tenants, but enforcement of the lease agreement and the laws governing it are not altered by the familial relationship of a guarantor and tenant.

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