Even if you screen every tenant that you accept into your rental property, there are other ways that unscreened tenants may end up living there. Your tenant might let a down-on-their-luck friend couch-surf while they get back on their feet. They may be caught up in a whirlwind romance that has their significant other staying at the property more often than not. Whatever the situation is, it can complicate things.
A guest staying beyond the reasonable time span you define in the lease agreement is essentially an unscreened tenant on your property.
You might not think it’s the biggest deal in the world, but there are some very real dangers unscreened tenants bring to your property.
1. Unknown background
You don’t know anything about the person who is living in your property.
When you bring a tenant onto the lease agreement, you probably check their credit and criminal background to ensure they can afford the property and they won’t use it for illegal activities. You don’t have that reassurance with a friend or family member that the tenant brings into your property. The tenant may assume that their friend or family member is trustworthy, but some people are very good at hiding bad behavior to get what they want.
You don’t want to kick out a good tenant because they won’t get rid of an unscreened visitor who stays past the lease agreement terms. You also don’t want to risk your property becoming involved in illegal activity. If the original tenant is interested in the guest staying on a long term basis, talk to them about screening the new addition to the apartment. They need to go through the same screening process the original tenant does to ensure everything is on the up and up. You don’t necessarily need to add them to the lease, depending on the situation, but you do want to do your due diligence to protect your property.
2. No security investment in the property
The unscreened tenant doesn’t have anything tying them to the property except the tenant that is on the lease. They don’t have a monetary investment, so they don’t have a direct incentive to keep up on maintenance and cleanliness. If they are staying for a significant amount of time, they add to the wear and tear of the property. They also run the risk of damaging the property, whether through negligence or malice.
3. No consequence for disruptive behavior
Your unscreened tenant also doesn’t deal with any consequences for acting disruptively. They aren’t the ones who stand to lose their apartment when they get into arguments on the front porch, hold loud parties, or ignore noise complaints coming from the next door neighbors. That’s all on the on lease tenant, who may not realize just how badly the unscreened tenant is behaving.
Avoiding Unscreened Tenants
You have no way to stop unscreened tenants from getting onto your property. After all, you can’t prevent your tenant from having guests.
What you can do, however, is restrict exactly how long the tenant’s guests can stay before they need to leave the property.
If you aren’t often at the apartment, you won’t necessarily know there’s an unscreened tenant on the property unless neighbors complain. However, it’s important to get this policy in writing so that you can enforce it. If the original tenant refuses to adhere to the lease terms, you have grounds to remove them from your property before a serious situation occurs.