2 Ways to Handle Unwanted Tenants
Having people living on your property who have not signed a lease with you can be problematic. These illegal tenants may violate agreements in the lease that could endanger neighboring properties (i.e., starting fires, selling drugs on the property, etc.) and put your legal tenants at legal or physical risk. If your legal tenants get into trouble with the law or are injured they could be unable to work and unable to pay rent.
If you have people living on your property who are not on the lease agreement signed by the legal tenant, you have two means of dealing with these unwanted tenants: talking to them directly and bringing in the authorities.
1. Direct Communication
If you've had a relatively amiable relationship with your legal tenants up until this point, there very well may be a simple misunderstanding about the terms of your lease. However, you cannot know this until you talk to your legal tenants about the pseudo-tenants. First, make sure you review your lease agreement with the legal tenants. If the lease was poorly written, it may not include language to inform the legal tenants that other people can't live there. If the language is missing, add it and ask the tenant to sign the new lease when their old lease is up.
If the language is there, but could be confusing or misinterpreted, you're still in a good position to speak to your legal tenants about the situation. Explain that portion of the document to them, and ask them to please abide by it. If they agree and apologize, consider the situation resolved. If they claim to have been confused and don't want to ask the pseudo-tenants to vacate the premises, then you can move to stronger action.
2. Involving the Authorities
Because your lease states that only the people listed are allowed to live on the property, the police can help you get rid of anyone else who is staying there. Remember to be communicative beforehand in order to prevent any further tension; don't surprise your legal tenants with the police presence. Let your tenants know that since they refuse to get rid of the pseudo-tenants, you will be contacting police to escort them off of the property.
Be sure to give a specific date when this action will happen. Let the legal tenants know that you will immediately call the police if the pseudo-tenants seem to be living at the property again. At this point, the legal tenants may cave and get rid of the pseudo-tenants, and the issue will be resolved.
If they don't, don't hesitate to follow through. Get the police involved and explain your situation. It may also help to give them as much information as you can about the pseudo-tenants, including their names and general descriptions.
Things to Consider
When dealing with people who are staying somewhere without permission, it's helpful to understand that they could be in actual dire straits such as a home foreclosure or job loss. However, there are other people who habitually break agreements and laws, and they could be dangerous. Talking face-to-face about the issue with your legal tenant when the pseudo-tenant is around could lead to violence, so consider having preliminary conversations about the situation over the phone or via email.
Also, some areas have laws that state that if people have lived in a place for a certain number of days, for example, 30 or more, they are legally allowed to stay until a formal eviction is executed. Talking with law enforcement officials in your area can help you understand how similar laws affect your options in your state.
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