Your tenant tells you that a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse is moving in with them. Worse yet, they don’t tell you and you find out another way. Maybe it’s not a significant other, but a sibling, cousin or even a parent. What should you do?
1. Review Your Lease
You must act right away or the new person could end up with the rights of tenancy. First, read your lease to see what was specified about overnight guests. For those who haven’t had this situation, they may want to review the lease and make changes before a problem comes up.
Your lease should state the procedures for having overnight guests. It may say how long they can stay without permission and when you must be notified. If your lease doesn’t include this information, you’ll want to think about changes for the future. All changes must be in accordance with your state law.
2. Find Out If They Will Be Staying
Talk to your tenant to find out how long the person will be staying. If the situation is a long-term, but temporary arrangement, you may want to offer an exception and leave things the way they are. For example, a tenant may have a family member visiting from another country who will stay for one or two months before returning home.
Your tenant will be responsible for the behavior of all guests, and you may want to remind them of this fact. Also, let them know the guest is still to follow the rules of other guests and will not have the privileges of tenancy.
3. Add Their Names to the Lease
If you determine this is a permanent situation or at least long-term (say, six months or more), you will want to add them to the lease. You will need to create a new lease and have them sign it as soon as possible.
Fail to do this step and you could end up with other issues, especially if the original tenant breaks up with the person or moves out. The second person won’t be legally responsible for the rent if they aren’t on the lease.
4. Follow Up in Writing
You may need to send out a written notice to your tenant if you don’t want another person residing on the property or if they refuse to sign a new lease. Refer to the specific area of the lease that shows the violation. Be specific about what you want the tenant to do and by what date.
Include any consequences of not complying with your requirements. For instance, you can say that you will begin eviction proceedings at a specific date if the additional person has not moved out or signed a new lease. Before you take this step, consult with an attorney to determine your rights. If the person doesn’t comply with your notice, you’ll have to be prepared to follow up with eviction proceedings.
Having an additional person in one of your properties isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can provide an extra source of income to pay the rent and help ensure you have a long-term tenant. However, you have to protect yourself from the legalities that go with this situation. When in doubt, talk to an experienced attorney to ensure you stay within the laws regarding tenants and landlords.
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