You're in a nightmare situation. Your tenant found themselves smitten with their new lover, and it didn't take long before they essentially moved into your property. What should you do?

The Problems with an Off-Lease Tenant
The main issue with an off-lease tenant is that you have no opportunity to screen them before they are living in your rental unit. They might come off as the best person in the universe to your tenant, but you can't risk your business based on your tenant's judgment. The longer the off-lease tenant stays in the property, the more risk you're inviting with potential damage and disruption. In most cases, the off-lease significant other is a genuinely good person, but you have to assume the worst to properly protect your property.
The other issue is trying to figure out if your tenant is breaking any other lease terms outside of the off-lease tenant. You don't want to end up going to your property and finding out that they have 10 pets, don't take the rental payment date seriously, and choose to park in restricted areas. Letting a significant other stay past the lease agreement guest rules could be the start of a slippery slope that leads to eviction. If you have a multi-family property, you can't guarantee the unscreened tenant will stay peaceful and quiet. You don't want to have issues with other tenants because one of your tenants has a guest staying past their welcome.

Keeping the Peace with the Original Tenant
You don't want to upset your original tenant by forcibly kicking out their significant other, so it's important to handle this situation with tact. Explain to your tenant why it's important their significant other adheres to the rules set in the lease, or they come to a compromise on the situation. Put a procedure in place to add the significant other to the lease, and be prepared for potential drama down the road if the relationship doesn't work out. If the boyfriend doesn't want to be added to the lease, talk to him about going through a screening process before staying longer than the original lease agreement allows. If you get a criminal background check, you at least have an idea of whether you want him around your property or if he poses too significant of a risk.

Taking a Legal Stand
Your tenant's significant other won't leave, won't sign a lease, and won't allow you to do any screening on them? It's time to get serious. Your lease should have the maximum amount of time a guest can stay on the property before they need to leave. Once the significant other gets to that point, enforce the lease clause by sending a demand to the tenant. If she doesn't comply with the demand to adhere to her lease terms, you have grounds for an eviction due to the breach of the lease. It's a difficult situation to deal with, since you don't want to kick out a good tenant, but you also don't want a completely unknown factor on your property. You have a legal liability to keep in mind, as well as concerns over whether your property would be damaged or destroyed by an unscreened tenant. An eviction may end up being the only solution to this tricky situation.

POSTED December 23 2014 8:34 AM

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