How Long is Too Long? Dealing with Unwanted Tenant Guests.

Your tenant has several guests coming and going on the property, and it seems like they're sticking around for the long run. Your original tenant has the legal responsibility for sticking to the lease agreement and keeping the property in good shape, but these guests aren't on the lease and have no legal or financial obligation to the property. It's a situation that's ripe for disaster for yourself and the original tenant if things go wrong. Here's how to handle unwanted long term tenant guests.

Define How Long is Too Long in the Lease Agreement
If you don't cover how long tenant guests can stay in your property, the tenant isn't breaking any lease agreements if their guests stay indefinitely. You don't have federal, state, or local laws governing how long a guest may stay on the property, so the time period and reporting procedure is entirely up to you. Some landlords have restrictions based on the amount of consecutive days within a particular time period, while others count all days within that time period. Once the time limit is reached, the guest has to go elsewhere for a specific number of days before they can continue visiting. Friends, family, and significant others are often guests that may run afoul of this particular policy. Require a notice period for tenant guests staying past a set amount of days, such as 7, so if you encounter them, you know they're permitted on the property by the tenant.

Negotiate with the Tenant for Longer Term Stays
If the tenant wants to keep someone around for longer, such as a down-on-their-luck family member, negotiate the issue. You don't want to lose a good tenant because you aren't willing to be flexible for them, but you also need to keep yourself and your property legally protected. Offer to change the guest restrictions in this situation if the guest consents to tenant screening, such as a background check. You gain the peace of mind that the guest has passed a similar screening process as the tenant, so you aren't wondering if you have an unsavory character running around your property.

Enforce Your Terms
Once you set your lease terms, enforce them. Pay attention to the people living on your property, particularly those who are staying more than a few days. Make sure you don't step on the toes of your tenant's privacy, however. They are legally permitted to have guests, so don't raise an issue with shorter term visitors. You want to focus on the guests who appear to be moving in instead of hanging out. If your original tenant won't kick their guests out after they aren't supposed to be there any longer, they can have their lease terminated.

Create a Procedure for Making Additions to the Lease Agreement
Does the original tenant want a roommate, family member, or significant other to stay at the property officially? As long as you can legally add another person to the apartment, consider the request. If you haven't already screened the guest, you have the opportunity to make sure they pass the same checks as the existing tenant. Tell the tenant how to add another person to the lease agreement so that the guest is legally responsible for the property as well. The responsibility may help stave off issues with the property down the road, compared to a guest with no financial interest in the property.

POSTED January 05 2015 11:36 AM

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