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Rumblings & Bumblings: Go Small! Sublet!

This week we tempt you with a big picture question. Not multiples like our normal R&B feature, just a single question from a reader with a real problem. Please offer your feedback in the comments or by email and we'll summarize on Thursday. Thanks!

"I saw this discussion on the New York Curbed and am hoping readers with knowledge of Los Angeles RSO can address my particular questions.

Myself and a roommate are subletting at a combined rate of $2500 per month in Venice Beach. This is a three bedroom unit, and the third unit is occupied by the possessions of the lease holder. He has had rent control for 10 years and his rent is $2200 per month.

When I agreed to live here, I did so because it seemed like I was getting a great deal, however I have come to realize that actual rent is significantly lower than what I initially thought. The going rate for an identical unit in our building is $3800 per month. Further, as the lease holder has had numerous sub-letters occupy this space over the past 10 years while he travels out of the country, its condition and capital improvements are lower than a new unit.

Does the municipal code regarding not profiting from a rent-stabilized lease address multi-bedroom units? I believe the code states that the lease holder can only charge 10% more than the lease - and only if the unit is furnished.

Neither myself nor my roommate have a lease, and he is out of the country for 4 more months. Though we did agree verbally to what we pay him each month, the conditions are different than what we agreed and we have no ability to complain to the landlord without jeopardizing the lease. Can I adjust what I pay him each month if I do it in good faith?"

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